Givan abandons key aspect of paramilitary strategy, says Farry

Alliance Policing spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has criticised the Communities Minister for abandoning a key aspect of the Executive’s anti-paramilitarism strategy, relating to segregation in housing.

North Down MLA Dr Farry was speaking after Paul Givan failed to mention the commitments given by the DUP and Sinn Fein in relation to the Panel Report on the Disbandment of Paramilitaries during Question Time in the chamber yesterday (Tuesday). After prompting, the Minister dismissed the entire premise of the recommendation.

It states the Executive ‘should accelerate and build on its existing good relations strategy to measurably reduce segregation in education and housing, and set ambitious targets and milestones to achieve measurable progress as quickly as possible’.

However, Dr Farry said it was another blow to the Executive’s action plan, which was “already suffering major credibility issues”.

“Both the Fresh Start Agreement itself, which was negotiated by the DUP and Sinn Fein, in the section on dealing with paramilitarism, and also a recommendation of the Panel Report, make a clear association between addressing community division and undermining paramiliatarism. The Panel Report itself specifically calls for action on tackling segregation in housing with ambitious targets and milestones.

“I was under the impression the Executive had accepted the Panel Report, and the key problem was their inability to put in place a robust and effective action plan. This answer from the Communities Minister raises much more fundamental issues.

“Alliance is clear if we are to be serious about tackling and eradicating paramilitarism from our society, and promoting a culture of lawfulness, we need both a strong policing and justice response. However, we also require a strong commitment from other Departments to address the underlying causes and context that paramilitaries can exploit, including a divided and segregated society.”

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