East Belfast MP Mrs Long said her question during Northern Ireland Questions in the House of Commons today (Wednesday) was met with a disappointing response, after Secretary of State Theresa Villiers again sought to distinguish between paramilitarism and criminality when it came to loyalist paramilitaries.
“Just this week we saw a crowd of around 100 people go on the rampage in Larne, attacking police, residents and homes, in an incident that was blamed on a faction of the UDA. My own constituency is home to regular illegality, often attributed to elements within the UVF.
“There increasingly appears to be some kind of differentiation in public discussions between different parts of the UDA and UVF, as if they are in some way good organisations and these are mere rogue elements that have gone bad. I asked the Secretary of State if she would agree they are simply illegal organisations and should have long ceased to exist in any structured form.
“It has been clear for some time that these proscribed organisations are still engaged in inexcusable criminal activity that is simply not acceptable to any right thinking person. The Secretary of State must take a tough line in order to restore people’s faith and be unequivocal in her condemnation of all parts of every illegal organisation.
“There also cannot and should not be any differentiation between paramilitarism and criminality, as it runs the risk of making one sound more legitimate than the other, when both are entirely unacceptable.”