Premiers must lay down the law: Bell

THE Prime Minister and Taoiseach have the opportunity this week to prove that crime doesn’t pay in a democracy, Alliance Deputy Leader Eileen Bell MLA has said.

Speaking ahead of Sinn Fein meetings with the British and Irish premiers and expected future meetings between the UPRG and the Downing Street Chief of Staff, Mrs Bell stated:

“After all the tough talk from the Prime Minister and the Taoiseach in recent weeks about the need for political parties and their associated paramilitary groups to commit to solely peaceful and democratic means, they now have the opportunity to match words with action.

“On one hand, Sinn Fein will be pleading with the two premiers to be allowed back into the political fold of respectability after the IRA carried out the biggest bank robbery in our history.

“On the other, the UPRG will be trying to secure the biggest bribe in history out of the Prime Minister’s right hand man while the UDA continues its campaigns of intimidation.

“Those who wreck their communities and destabilise politics are constantly rewarded with high level meetings, financial incentives and fast-tracked forgiveness. It is time to stop the rot.

“On several occasions, Tony Blair has told democratic parties in the talks that their problem was that they didn’t have guns. Despite this incredible admission that parties with links to terrorism are being given a better chance of achieving their objectives than democrats, the two governments this week have the opportunity to lay down the law – literally.

“Both premiers need to send out the signal that violence and crime do not pay. Instead of rewarding those who regularly hold politics to ransom, the reaction of the public recently has been that ‘enough is enough’.

“People are fed up to the back teeth with the governments pussy-footing around, pandering to those who present the greatest threat to democracy. There are 108 MLAs waiting to deliver for their constituents, but at the moment, the only delivery appears to be concessions and appeasement from the government to those still wedded to paramilitary crime.”

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