He was speaking after the formation of a new ‘Loyalist Community Council’ at an event in East Belfast, which saw the three main loyalist paramilitary organisations announce a commitment to the ending of criminality and tackling educational underachievement among other aims.
“Twenty-one years after ceasefires and 17 years after the Good Friday Agreement, all paramilitary organisations should have long since ceased to exist instead of subverting democracy, the rule of law, good relations and development through illegal means,” he said.
“Paramilitary violence and criminality does nothing to tackle inequality or support re-imaging and regeneration in areas that need it the most in our community.
“The message must be very clear – there is no place for paramilitarism or violence of any kind in a new and shared Northern Ireland. There should be no need for anyone to clarify a commitment to purely peaceful, democratic and law-abiding means at this stage.
“Alliance Ministers and elected representatives are fully committed to promoting positive and mutually respectful cultural expression, and to working collaboratively to deliver a wide range of inclusive initiatives to improve the educational attainment, employability, security and confidence of people across our community. We will work together with anyone committed to peace and progress to achieve these important aims.”