Ford says more needs done to tackle paramilitarism

Alliance Leader David Ford has welcomed a treaty creating a body designed to end paramilitarism but said much more is needed.

South Antrim MLA Mr Ford was speaking after Secretary of State James Brokenshire and Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan signed the treaty in Dublin. It will establish the Independent Reporting Commission agreed as part of last year’s Fresh Start deal.

But Mr Ford said more needed done by a range of public bodies to truly remove paramilitarism from our society.

“While the signing of today’s treaty and establishment of the body is a welcome move, we all know what needs to be done to remove the poison of paramilitarism from our streets. As long as the context in which paramilitarism festers still exists, these sorts of groups will continue to hold our community in their evil grip.

“Alliance proposed the Independent Reporting Commission as part of last year’s talks, based on the work of the previous Independent Monitoring Commission, but also covering the relationships between Government bodies and paramilitary groups.

“As part of Alliance’s proposals to the DUP and Sinn Fein during negotiations around forming an Executive earlier this year, we called for a firm commitment to a robust programme of action to tackle paramilitary activity. However, the DUP and Sinn Fein rejected that suggestion.

“It is clear while the two Governments have recognised this is a serious issue, we are yet to see any measurable targets set by the Executive in relation to ending paramilitarism. The Executive response to the detailed report of the Independent Panel on Paramilitarism was far short of being a genuine action plan. Instead of just talking, strong deeds are needed in order to break down the groups continuing to bring terror to our streets.”

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