EAST Belfast Alliance MLA Cllr.Naomi Long has hit out at comments by PUP Leader, David Ervine, who has said loyalists would only consider acting on the arms issue once the IRA goes out of business.
She called for all paramilitaries to act now to bring paramilitary activity to end.
Naomi Long said, “Whilst I agree with David Ervine that IRA need to bring their paramilitary and criminal activities to an end once and for all, for loyalists to dish out such advice is a blatant case of the pot calling the kettle black. Despite several acts of decommissioning by the IRA, neither the UVF nor the UDA have handed over a single gun or bullet.
“He perpetuates the myth that loyalist guns are kept only to defend loyalists from potential republican attack. The reality is that loyalist guns are not kept silently but are actively used on the streets, whether in the commissioning of serious crime – drug dealing, intimidation, extortion, protection rackets, armed robberies, and violent vigilante attacks – or are turned on each other in a series of bloody feuds, which have ripped the heart and soul out of some of our most disadvantaged communities. He fails miserably to explain how IRA decommissioning or even disbandment will affect that in any way.
“David Ervine said that he feels it would be his responsibility to persuade loyalists to give up their weapons once the IRA fully decommissioned. He needs to put down his thesaurus for a moment and pick up his copy of the Good Friday Agreement – it already is his responsibility. Every politician agreed to do everything within their power to bring an end to all paramilitary violence and parties such as Sinn Fein and the PUP, who claim to have influence within armed organisations, have a particular responsibility in that regard.
“Alliance will certainly be working hard to create the conditions in which it can happen and to shine a light on continued violent criminality in the meantime, both republican and loyalist.
“For far too long Mr. Ervine has been allowed to hide behind eloquent soliloquies and fine sounding platitudes when it comes to the question of loyalist violence. My message to him is clear – a little less conversation and a little more action would be in order.”