Time to spell out sanctions: Ford

ALLIANCE Leader David Ford is expected to tell the Government that if it is not prepared to state what sanctions it proposes to take against parties linked to groups involved in paramilitary activity, there is little point in having Review meetings focusing on paramilitarism.

An Alliance delegation is due to meet representatives of the two Governments tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon, and has sent them a submission on the issue of paramilitarism in advance.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Mr Ford said: “Both the British and Irish Governments agree with Alliance that all paramilitary activities should have now ended, and that violence and politics do not mix. Where we differ is in that the two Governments seem unwilling to actually do anything about breaches of Paragraph 13 of the Joint Declaration.

“Instead, those parties linked to paramilitary groups that have engaged in community terrorism are rewarded with high-profile meetings with prime ministers.

“This Review was supposed to be about the workings of the Agreement, but it is being sidetracked by the Governments into a discussion on paramilitarism. This has the potential to lock up progress for months, and unless there is swift movement to deal with this activity by the Governments, this move can only be seen as another delaying tactic.

“There should be immediate action by the Governments, otherwise we are looking at the autumn before the Review gets down to the crunch issues. That’s not good enough, and unless the Governments tell us what action they intend taking, it is unclear what the purpose of more meetings would be.

“We are prepared to discuss ideas with the Government but they must give a commitment that they will treat breaches of Paragraph 13 seriously.”

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