Alliance expresses concern over UVF child soldiers to Security Minister

AN ALLIANCE Party delegation met Security Minister Ian Pearson this morning to discuss the deteriorating situation surrounding the loyalist feud between the LVF and UVF.

The delegation consisted of Strangford MLA, Alderman Kieran McCarthy; East Belfast MLA, Councillor Naomi Long and North Down Councillor Stephen Farry.

After what she described as a “frank and open” meeting, Cllr Long stated:

“We put it to the Security Minister that there should be adequate security backup and resources for the PSNI, in order to frustrate further attacks and bring this latest loyalist feud to an end. Loyalist paramilitary violence stretches the police on an annual basis, and it is essential that they have the tools and manpower to protect the public and enforce the law.

“Clearly, there is great concern as we come into the summer and the marching season that any feud could exacerbate the situation in mixed areas and interfaces.

“We also raised our concerns about how loyalist paramilitaries are using child soldiers as look-outs, and so placing their lives in danger. Teenagers have a right to enjoy their childhood free from the violence of paramilitarism, and I would call on these groups to end their recruitment of young people before one is killed.

“People are living in fear, and what we have on the streets is nothing to do with politics and everything to do with criminality. Already there has been too much bloodshed, and no-one wants yet another repeat of previous fallouts between loyalist paramilitaries.

“I understand that the Security Minister will be talking to the Chief Constable and the Secretary of State today, and I am hopeful that he will communicate our views to them.”

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