Ford says paramilitarism needs tackled properly for talks to be successful

David Ford MLA has said the “poison of paramilitarism” must be tackled properly for the Stormont House talks to have any chance of lasting success.

The Alliance Leader was speaking after the first day of the resumed talks, during which a party delegation met with the British and Irish Governments to discuss issues around welfare, reform of the Assembly institutions and paramilitarism.

Mr Ford said while it was vital the latter was eradicated, politicians of all hues needed to tackle paramilitarism in all forms.

“Recent developments have again brought to the fore the influence of paramilitarism in society, which openly flies in the face of the rule of law. While it is correct for the question about the operational organisation of the IRA to be scrutinised, it is essential the role of loyalist paramilitaries and their relationships with unionist parties are examined.

“It is a matter we raised with the Governments today – you cannot on one hand call for the removal of the IRA while on the other hand meet and interact with representatives of organisations such as the UVF and UDA on a regular basis.

“The persistence of paramilitarism and its displays are a poison to our society – its effects are felt at every level in our community. We need to tackle paramilitary structures at a grassroots level and have no fear or no favour shown towards them.”

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