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More substantive Executive action plan needed on paramilitarism, Alliance says

The Executive needs to produce a more substantive action plan on paramilitarism, Alliance representatives will tell the Assembly tomorrow.

The party will bring a motion on ending all forms of paramilitarism, It follows a series of incidents, including concern being expressed over funding of the Charter NI group and the UK Government withholding money for the implementation of the Executive's action plan on paramilitarism due to its lack of detail. Alliance Executive spokesperson Stewart Dickson MLA said 18 years after the Good Friday Agreement, all paramilitary organisations should have ceased to exist.

"In the wake of the murders of summer 2015, Alliance proposed a fresh commitment to tackle and disband paramilitaries was necessary to reinforce the rule of law, and complete the move to a normal society. We also suggested a protocol regarding how the state and public bodies interact with legacy paramilitaries. While we support the three-person panel on paramilitarism, we are highly sceptical on the Executive's action plan response. "There is a lack of clear targets, timescales, and resources throughout the document. Indeed, it is the first action plan that appears to have no actions involved. This is compounded by Executive Ministers, including the First Minister, being pictured alongside self-confessed active paramilitary commanders, and showing no shame in doing so. "Next week will see the first anniversary of the so-called Fresh Start Agreement, but recent events leave open the question of how some political parties and Ministers are genuinely committed to, to quote the Agreement itself, achieving 'a society free of paramilitarism', to 'challenge all paramilitary activity' and to 'challenge paramilitary attempts to control communities'. "My colleague David Ford MLA made it clear if he was still Justice Minister, he would not have signed off on the Executive's action plan. If we are to truly remove paramilitarism from our society, it needs to be much stronger to give the clear message those who still exert criminal influence over our community are no longer welcome."

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