Cllr Naomi Long MLA stated: “The Ulster Unionist’s links with the representatives of loyalist paramilitaries in Belfast City Council have existed for the past 12 years and still they have not delivered and end to violence. How then can we believe Ulster Unionists when they say that their Assembly connection with the PUP will help bring an end to UVF activities.
“The Ulster Unionists have not moved the UDA one inch further towards peace during the 12 years that they have been in cahoots with the UPRG in its various guises.
“The Ulster Unionists even backtracked and changed the reason they gave for their Assembly link to the PUP when people reacted badly to the move. They firstly said it was to boost the number in the UUP group, to gain an extra executive seat – a blatantly crass and sectarian move. Then, they said that the link would help end loyalist violence – they have delivered no change yet. The UUP must remove any ambiguity and clarify their position immediately.
“Alliance have engaged with paramilitaries in flag forums and bonfire committees to try to end violence and sectarian tensions. We believe that it is useful to engage in dialogue with everyone, to seek an end to all forms of violence and criminality; however, absorbing representative of armed and active paramilitary groups into a political party, like the UUP have done, is fundamentally wrong.
“Alliance has and will continue to work tirelessly in the Preparation for Government committee and its sub-groups, to try and ensure that devolution is restored, and we call on all parties to make similar efforts to break the current political deadlock. We will not be found wanting in our efforts to achieve a comprehensive deal which will address the concerns of all sections of the community.”
Naomi Long concluded: “Decent people continue to be appalled at the UUP’s link with the representatives of armed and active paramilitaries.”