Alliance Party Deputy Leader, Stephen Farry, has responded to the comments from ACC Stephen Martin to the Nolan Show regarding people involved in Charter NI being linked to recent paramilitary activity.
Stephen Farry said: “It has been clear to many that there are people connected with Charter NI that are associated with the UDA. However, the comments made today by ACC Stephen Martin to this effect elevates the current controversy around government funding of Charter to a new level.
“The police are rightly highlighting individuals being potentially involved in recent illegal activities, but membership of a proscribed organisation is illegal in its own right and should be of concern to the public and a matter for police inquiries.
“In their response, the Executive Office are slowly wakening up to the problems of how they have facilitated Charter in the past and the wider implications for the credibility of Executive actions to tackle paramilitarism.
“For the Executive Office to say that ‘All those associated with Charter or any community enterprise must make a clear choice between paramilitarism and legitimate community work’ provides an implicit recognition that there has been a problem in the past and a greying of what should be a black and white distinction in terms of how government interacts with communities.
“It is further worth stressing that Charter NI have not just been awarded funding from government through open and competitive processes, but at times they have been directly facilitated with normal processes of good governance bypassed.
“Hopefully, the comments from ACC Martin will finally bring this to a head. However, it is now essential that the Executive Office suspends all payments to Charter and puts in place arrangements whereby GEMS can directly deliver the SIF Employability Project in East Belfast.”