We were told a few weeks ago that Public Achievement – the charity I work for – was going to be given a Big Society Award from the Prime Minister David Cameron. It is for the work we have been doing throughout all our projects including WIMPS (Where Is My Public Servant?) and the website wimps.tv. Minister of State for Northern Ireland Hugo Swire would be presenting the award on Monday evening. We would have a big event including staff from all our projects, great and good from the youth service, the deputy US Consul and – naturally – young people mainly from WIMPS who would also do the webcast including camera and sound operations, interviewing and presenting.
So when I walked into the office at 08.30 on Monday morning, Paul Smyth the Director of Public Achievement told me he was to appear on The Nolan Show (a programme on Radio Ulster) to talk about Punishment Attacks. (If you are not from Northern Ireland explanation is due. Punishment attacks are vigilante attacks on suspected petty criminals done – as the attackers would say – on behalf of the community. No need for police, courts and a justice system – just beat the fuck out of them, is the philosophy. It’s criminal and ugly and here is a list of weapons used. http://wimps.tv/stories/weapons-used-in-punishment-attacks/)
Nolan has covered Punishment Attacks before as has Wendy Austin on Talkback – another Radio Ulster programme. The Radio Ulster audience is … ambivalent on the subject. Yes there are a large number of people who support this “guilty and punished before tried” back-street justice.
The response was sickenly predictable. Paul kicked off the discussion and the excuse makers and apologists took over.
This led to the TV show on Wednesday which Paul and Una (who is running the campaign) appeared in.
All exhausted, the office was like a ghost ship by about 3.30 on Friday. And just to add to the success, I got the equipment store room sorted out — and found a stack of equipment we haven’t used; radio mics and teleprompter among them.
And there was other stuff going on, about which more later.
What a week, but I’m not complaining!