Alliance Party Leader, David Ford, has reacted to the publication of the Independent Monitoring Commission’s first report by stating that it has helped to shift the political debate onto the broader range of paramilitary activity.
David Ford stated:
“Alliance called for the formation of the IMC in order to shine a spotlight onto the dark deeds of the paramilitaries, and to create the context for concentrated international and domestic political pressure.
“We now have in the public realm the most comprehensive account of the ongoing illegal activities of paramilitary organisations on all sides. It is a worrying account. Paramilitary murder remains commonplace, and paramilitary attacks are occurring at a much higher rate than before. The Body notes an alarming tolerance for paramilitarism in Northern Ireland.
“Crucially, the IMC Report focuses on the broader range of paramilitary activity that impacts on individuals and local communities, rather than the previous narrow focus on just attacks on the state or the so-called ‘other side’.
“All of these activities undermine the rule of law, and the integrity of the democratic process. All need to be addressed.
“The Governments and the rest of the parties ignore this report at their peril.
“It is disappointing that the IMC felt that it was only empowered to recommend financial sanctions in the context of suspension of the Assembly, but it is notable that they wanted to go much further. However, the Government has even ducked this recommendation by only moving to withdraw party allowance, but not to remove salaries – which was also recommended by the IMC.
“Of course, it is open for the Government to take broader action. It does have the power to exclude the paramilitary-related parties from the Review negotiations for a set period of time – this would be the equivalent of exclusion from office had the election been sitting, which is clearly what the IMC wanted to do.”