Ending paramilitarism must be top priority: Ford

Speaking on the eve of the Hillsborough Talks to restore devolution in Northern Ireland, Alliance Party Leader David Ford MLA has expressed serious concerns regarding flaws in the proposed IRA statement.

Mr Ford also stressed that Alliance will insist that the governments ensure the IRA deliver a clear and unambiguous commitment to end of all paramilitary activity.

David Ford said:

“The proposed IRA statement does not provide a clear and unambiguous commitment to the end of all paramilitary activity in line with paragraph 13 of the Joint Declaration.

“Republicans have always drawn arbitrary distinctions between their so-called ‘war’ or the ‘conflict’ and other activities such as paramilitary attacks and exiling.

“These practices are some of the biggest human rights challenges facing Northern Ireland. They have just as much potential to destabilise the political institutions, and to undermine democracy and the rule of law, as their intentions on arms, or continued targeting and intelligence gathering do.

“What we have is merely a clearer confirmation that the IRA struggle against the British State and Unionists can potentially come to a complete end. However, the IRA statement allows them to continue to define which activities threaten the agreement and which do not.

“The removal of the phrase ‘the need to uphold and not to endanger anyone’s personal rights and safety’ indicates the lack of certainty regarding republican intentions. Frankly, even with the inclusion of these words the overall statement remains ambiguous.

“Alliance had similar concerns with the IRA statement from October 2003. We have been seeking a clear commitment to paragraph 13 over the past 18 months. It is far better for the governments to resolve this issue now once and for all rather than allowing it to fester.”

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