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Family and Community Workers Concerned at False Reporting

Monkstown Community Resource Centre

A story has been running in a Sunday tabloid over the past two weeks claiming that a ten year old boy was ordered out of the country by the Ulster Volunteer Force and that subsequently that organisation rescinded its order for expulsion following the first media story.

The initial story was published without any verification from either the family or from community and statutory bodies working on behalf of family members. Had contact been made with the family and with local community and statutory sector workers those responsible for publishing the story would have been informed that no such threat was ever made against the boy by the Ulster Volunteer Force.

There has been an ongoing problem with a boy of eleven years of age who has a long history of involvement in widespread anti-social behaviour and petty crime to a degree well beyond what one would expect of a boy of that age. This is a fact that neither the family nor local community representatives would dispute.

David Ervine of the Progressive Unionist Party has been acting on behalf of family members for some two years to have the boy admitted to care for remedial treatment. Both Mr Ervine and the family have been told repeatedly that, while there are beds for young persons convicted of offences, there are no care beds available for young people of that age in Northern Ireland. In September 2003 a representative of the Progressive Unionist Party accompanied the boy and his grandfather to the Foster Green Hospital with a view to having the boy admitted to care. Their requests were rejected and both the party representative and the family were asked to leave the premises. The family have subsequently been told that the closest available care beds for a child of that age are in Scotland.

Community representatives and local paramilitaries have consistently argued that the boy and his family require help not punishment. On the Thursday prior to the first article being published in the press the most recent activities of the boy were discussed at community level by representatives of the family and the local community. The community representatives included a clergyman, a restorative justice practitioner and a victim. It was agreed that the community had a responsibility to assist the family and the boy to secure such help as may be available from statutory and voluntary sector bodies. Assurances were received from local paramilitary contacts that no threats of ‘punishment’ had been issued and that no threats would be issued. The group was informed by the family member that the family would welcome a restorative justice approach to the case to complement any statutory provision.

On the Tuesday following the first newspaper article the family member and a friend met with David Ervine of the Progressive Unionist Party to ask for assistance in repudiating the erroneous press reports and in seeking assistance from Social Services. Northern Ireland Alternatives was also contacted with a view to providing restorative justice training to church and community workers in the Monkstown area. Mr Ervine contacted the editor of the newspaper by telephone in the presence and hearing of a family member and friend and complained about the gross inaccuracy of the published article and gave the editor an outline of his involvement with the family over the past two years. He also relayed the family’s feeling that the newspaper did not seem interested in the boy or his problems but was simply using the boy and the family to attack a paramilitary organisation. He asked why the reporter had not interviewed the family or those who had been working on the case. He received no satisfactory answer.

Mr Ervine also contacted Roy Beggs MP, again in the presence and hearing of a family member and friend, to ask what information he had based his remarks concerning the case to the newspaper. Mr Beggs acknowledged that he knew nothing about the incident and had simply been responding to what the newspaper had put to him. He assumed that the newspaper had fully investigated the matter and was telling the truth. Mr Ervine also contacted Social Services and had a lengthy discussion about the boy and his case history. He also relayed the family members opinion that no paramilitary threat had been issued by the UVF and that there was no threat against the boy or his family from that organisation. This conversation took place in the presence and hearing of a family member and friend.

Mr Ervine then had a telephone conversation with the boy’s grandfather, again in the presence and hearing of a family member and friend, in which he received confirmation that the boy had not been ordered out of the country by the Ulster Volunteer Force and during which he discussed the boy’s situation. It was clear from the nature of the conversation that Mr Ervine was fully conversant with the case and had been involved for some time in trying to secure a resolution.

Notwithstanding the representations made by Mr Ervine to the newspaper concerned and the clear evidence that Mr Ervine was fully conversant with the case and was acting on behalf of family members, the paper carried a second article which contained further false allegations.

Family members and community workers are deeply concerned at the complete disregard for truth and honesty in both articles and are deeply disturbed that the problems arising from a small boy in need of remedial care should be used as a tool by the media for its own agenda. The paramilitary group concerned will, no doubt get over the black publicity. Apparently they are used to it. Family members and friends however are finding it a bit more difficult to come to terms with. Why should a newspaper use a child member of their family as a tool to attack other people? The newspaper concerned showed no concern whatever for the boy, his family, or the wider community that has suffered as a consequence of the boys problems. Indeed the callousness of the newspaper with regard to the boy and his family is just as abhorrent as any paramilitary threat would have been, had it have been issued.

Those genuinely interested in the case are invited to contact concerned family members through Mr Ervine.

Constituency Office: (028) 9022 5040




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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent


Historians and economists {subsidized by governments} are very good at creating and perpetuating myths that justify increasing the power placed in the hands of government.
- Reuven Brenner

Index: Current Articles

8 July 2004

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Scargill in Ireland
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Rev. Ian Harte
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Family and Community Workers Concerned at False Reporting
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The Dictators: Hitler's Germany, Stalin's Russia
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Towards a Republican Agenda for Scotland
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