Alliance has raised a number of concerns over paramilitary activity with the body designed to monitor progress on tackling it here.
Party Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MLA and former Justice Minister David Ford MLA met the Independent Reporting Commission (IRC) today (Tuesday). The IRC was created as part of the Fresh Start Agreement and charts progress of Executive’s action plan on paramilitarism.
Dr Farry said he welcomed the engagement with the body.
“We welcome the role the IRC plays in monitoring the implementation of the Executive’s plan, as well as assessing progress towards the end of paramilitary activity and creating a culture of lawfulness.
“Alliance previously welcomed the May 2016 report on the disbandment of paramilitary groups but also expressed concerns on the level of strategic buy-in from Government as a whole, as well as a lack of clarity around resources given to it, timescales and measurement of progress on the Executive’s action plan, all of which we raised in today’s meeting.
“We also mentioned the need for the focus to be put on the disbandment of paramilitary structures as opposed to their transformation into pseudo-community organisations, to empower the communities and make sure all voices are heard, not marginalised by dominant paramilitary strongmen. We need to see an end to the coercive control these organisations have on the communities, acting as gatekeepers.
“There has been a lack of progress on developing a protocol for public agencies to deal with paramilitary structures and their legacy at a community level, as well as no acknowledgment on how reductions in levels of community policing due to budget cuts are contrary to the need for visible policing in areas most affected by paramilitary violence.
“Alliance stressed the rule of law requires not only putting an end to criminal activity but also full cooperation with the police and criminal justice agencies. I hope the IRC’s first report, due to the published this autumn, emphasises continued membership of paramilitary structures is at odds with that culture of lawfulness, and we must see a focus on disbandment of paramilitaries.”