Minister of Justice, David Ford MLA has commented on the independent assessment of paramilitary groups in Northern Ireland.
David Ford said: “This document reinforces the need for us, as political leaders and with the support of the Westminster and Irish Governments, to take steps to remove paramilitarism from our society.
“The assessment states that the most serious current threat is posed by dissident republicans. That threat requires a robust criminal justice response.
“While I note from the assessment that loyalist groups and PIRA at a leadership level are committed to peace, the assessment includes some deeply disturbing findings. There are individuals in all the organisations covered who are still engaged in criminal activity. That includes murder.
“The challenge to the leaders in all those organisations is to transform. The report states, as did the IMC before it, that the continuing existence of the various groups since the ceasefires has played an important role in enabling the transition. But their leaders now need to recognise that their transition must move to completion. To recognise that paramilitary army structures have no place in a democratic society. There is no place for recruitment, holding arms, conducting organised crime or violence, gathering intelligence or any of the other activities highlighted.
“The challenge for all political parties is to demonstrate their commitment to democracy and the rule of law by working together urgently and genuinely to tackle the problems highlighted by this assessment.”
Notes to editors:
1. All media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office on 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned.
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