Criminal assets can help victims: Bell

ALLIANCE Party Spokesperson on Victims Eileen Bell MLA has said that some of the proceeds seized by the Assets Recovery Agency should be channelled into drug prevention programmes and schemes for victims of paramilitarism.

On Monday, the ARA was granted a civil recovery order to allow it to seize over £1 million of assets from the estate of murdered paramilitary John Johnston.

Mrs Bell, who is also Alliance Deputy Leader, stated:

“I understand that the proceeds seized by the Assets Recovery Agency are to be channelled into crime fighting initiatives. I believe that it would be most appropriate to recycle at least some of these proceeds into a drug prevention scheme, as it would appear a sizeable proportion of the amount recovered was in fact from the proceeds of drug running.

“I believe it would also be fitting if there were a mechanism whereby another significant tranche should be directed to victims’ groups, which are often under-funded and under-resourced.

“Paramilitaries have been responsible for destroying many lives, even since their ceasefires, and their involvement in organised crime – such as drug peddling – cannot be ignored. If we are serious about creating a better future for those who have suffered because of paramilitary groups or their criminal activity, then money seized should be used to directly make amends.”

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