Alliance Release: Ford Asks When Executive Will Create Stronger Action Plan On Paramilitarism

Alliance MLA David Ford has asked the Executive when it will create a better action plan on paramilitarism, after it was revealed the UK Government had withheld funding for it due to its lack of detail.

320The revelation came as part of the unveiling of the October Monitoring Round by the Finance Minister in today’s Assembly. In a section entitled “Funding to Address Paramilitary Activity”, it states “the Executive’s Budget 2016-17 identified £10 million to tackle paramilitary activity. Of this, the Executive contributed £5 million £5 million, with £5 million to be accessed from the UK Government…the Secretary of State has advised the UK Government funding will not be released until the Executive agrees a more detailed action plan.”

Former Justice Minister Mr Ford said it was proof the Executive’s action plan was “utterly weak”.

“The Executive response to the independent report on paramilitarism was first released long after its deadline. When it was finally made public, it was full of non-specific language, no timescales, no clear targets and little detail about funding. It was an utterly weak document.

“It is clear the UK Government feels exactly the same, which is why it has withheld its part of the funding. I have therefore submitted urgent questions to the Executive asking when they were first advised they would not be receiving the UK Government funding and when do they expect to agree a more detailed plan to fulfil the Treasury’s expectations.

“If we are to truly remove the poison of paramilitarism from our society, we need a robust plan to tackle it and subsequent actions from all parties against those still exerting criminal influence over our community.”

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Abby Williams
Belfast based author/writer specialising in entertainment, mental health and human interest.