Lunn says report shows need to end paramilitarism

Alliance MLA Trevor Lunn has said the findings of an assessment of paramilitaries shows the pressing need for parties to show the political will to end all paramilitarism across society.

Speaking after Secretary of State Theresa Villiers announced the conclusions in the House of Commons today (Tuesday), Alliance Policing Board spokesperson Mr Lunn said it also reinforced Alliance’s long-standing belief that a permanent monitoring body would bring confidence to the political process.

The report found the Provisional IRA Army Council is still in existence, but committed to political means, while loyalists, although committed at leadership level to the transformation of their organisations, are actively recruiting, with some extensively involved in organised crime and orchestrating street violence.

Mr Lunn said the findings brought into focus the damage the “scourge of paramilitarism” was doing to Northern Ireland.

“Today’s report makes stark once again the need to deal effectively with paramilitarism once and for all. Its dark influence is felt at every level of our society. In order to do this successfully, a permanent independent body should be created that can monitor the existence and activities of all groups at a grassroots level.

“In a peaceful democracy, there is no need for the Provisional Army Council to exist. While the assessment concludes it is exclusively political, there is a challenge for Sinn Fein, who still deny the IRA exists. If the focus of the republican movement is purely political, then a paramilitary structure has no place.

“Unionist parties meanwhile need to seriously reflect on the findings around loyalist paramilitaries. How can they justify sitting on the Camp Twaddell committee and participating in a unionist forum with a graduated response when their colleagues are extensively involved in organised crime? They need to clarify their positions urgently.

“In order to have a lasting, functional Executive that operates within a peaceful society, all parties need to work together to end the scourge of paramilitarism once and for all. This report has not changed that requirement but rather reinforced it.

“Alliance has proposed a series of measures throughout the talks process which, if other parties committed to, could result in a permanent solution to this issue. We have the political will, now others need to show they have the same.”

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