Watch your language, Alliance warns unionists

Alliance Party Leader David Ford MLA has warned a number of unionist politicians to avoid sending mixed messages to the IRA by demanding the limited language of ‘the war is over’ rather than seeking a broader statement indicating an end to all paramilitary activity.

David Ford said:

“The phrase ‘the war is over’ is a convenient sound-bite for some, but it fundamentally fails to address the need for a much broader statement from republicans indicating an end to all paramilitary activity.

“For too long, the definition of a ceasefire was seen in limited terms, dealing with attacks upon the state and the so-called ‘other side’. There has been an unofficial tolerance of activities such a paramilitary beatings, exiling, involvement in street disorder, and links to organised crime.

“All of these activities have the potential to destabilise political institutions, and to undermine democracy, human rights and the rule of law. This was belatedly recognised through Paragraph 13 of the Joint Declaration, and the creation of the IMC.

“On several occasions, authoritative commentators such as the Chief Constable have indicated that the IRA does not intend to resume a terrorist campaign, but that they have continued to engage in illegal activities.

“Leaving aside the wider argument about whether or not the IRA was engaged in what could be described as a ‘war’, such loose language by unionists allows republicans off the hook. They could continue to draw an arbitrary distinction between those activities that they deem to be part of their armed struggle against the British state and unionists, and those associated with them exercising control over some communities.

“In continuing to make demands for a ‘war is over’ statement, some unionists are sending out a mixed message and failing to address the broader needs of society. They need to watch their language.”

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