8 Mar 2012

**Video onsite

A vigilante group known as Republican Action Against Drugs is being blamed for shooting two men in Derry – just hours after hundreds attended a rally protesting against RAAD.

The two victims, who are teenage cousins, were summoned to Gartan Square in Derry’s Bogside at about 11pm on Wednesday night for what was essentially a punishment shooting by appointment.

They arrived knowing what was about to happen.

One young man was shot in both ankles, the other in one leg. Both were taken to hospital, where their conditions are not believed to be life-threatening.

The gun attack came in answer to a rally in the Creggan Estate, which was called after RAAD issued a threat against four young men – including the two who were later to become victims of the shooting.

The mother of another of those threatened said her family is living in fear.

“I’m afraid that they’re going to come through the door and I have children here,” she said.

“People are afraid to stand up – we all have to get together. This has to be sorted out.”

Local politicians have united condemning such vigilantism and have called for RAAD to disband.

The group recently admitted to being behind the murder of Andrew Allen – a 24-year-old father-of-two originally from the Waterside, who was shot dead in his home near Buncrana last month.

Sinn Féin Foyle MLA Raymond McCartney said, despite the group’s name, the actions of the vigilantes were nothing to do with either drugs or republicanism.

“This is about flexing muscles following an altercation between young people and individuals identified as having connections to these vigilantes,” he said.

“It is about intimidating the youth in our communities. We now have the situation where mothers are being asked to bring their sons to locations to be shot by appointment.

“Well, Derry mothers will not be intimidated and they sent a strong, clear message from the rally in Creggan on Wednesday night and the protest in the Top of the Hill last month following the murder of Andrew Allen.”

SDLP Foyle MLA Pat Ramsey has called for anyone with information to contact the police as a matter of urgency.

He added: “I cannot stress enough how fed up the people of Derry are with attacks like these and we will be tireless in our campaign against the thugs who carried out last night’s shootings.”

Investigating officers have appealed for witnesses to the shootings to come forward.