Speaking ahead of the Independent Monitoring Commission’s first report into paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland, Alliance Assembly member Naomi Long (East Belfast) stated:
“Alliance first proposed a form of independent observer as a way in which the activities of paramilitary groups could be publicly highlighted and not ignored by the Government any longer.
“Paramilitary activity has been a millstone around the neck of political progress here for too long. When the Government played it down in the past or refused to take action, it damaged its credibility so severely that it helped collapse the Assembly.
“The IMC was created to shine a spotlight very clearly on what terror groups are doing, whether that is a breach of a ceasefire or criminal activity.
“It is then up to the Government to take action. However, any consequences should be more than merely financial sanctions. Financial penalties alone would not adequately restore public confidence in the process or integrity to it, and they would have no real effect on paramilitary violence or criminality.
“It also sends out the very negative message that those racketeering and murdering can get away with it for as long as they have the proceeds of last week’s armed robbery in their back pocket.
“Our peace process has been totally paralysed by paramilitarism. It is a problem that will not be resolved by stopping paramilitary pocket money for parties with armed wings that hold politics here to ransom for millions each year.”