Sinn Féin MLA Linda Dillon welcomed the publication of the Independent Reporting Commission’s (IRC) second report on tackling paramilitarism.
Linda Dillon said:
“In today’s report they have outlined a number of key recommendations, which we would endorse.
“They clearly recognise the need for a comprehensive and holistic approach to confronting head on paramilitarism/serious organised crime.
“As a pre-requisite a long-term politically driven approach needs to be adopted to deal with the serious systemic issues impacting on working class communities, which suffer from socio-economic deprivation, low educational attainment and high unemployment rates, especially for young people.
“Working-class communities across the political spectrum suffer most from the scourge of these criminal gangs.
“They also point to the need for neighbourhood policing to be enhanced. They recommend the increased provision of neighbourhood policing teams, who should be fully resourced to work in partnership with local communities to combat control, extortion, drug dealing etc by these gangs.
“The concept of tackling paramilitarism is predicated on a twin-track approach, which involves on the one hand a policing and justice response, which has been funded and is making progress.
“By contrast, the community empowerment aspect of the concept has not attracted the same level of progress or funding.
“Accordingly, we would also share the serious concerns expressed by the Commission at the slow pace of progress in building capacity in working-class areas, some of whom are already attempting to combat and confront serious criminality.
“This clear lack of progress has damaged community confidence in the overall project. It has also tended to diffuse the momentum for the concept, developed over a number of years by community and political lenders, who have led the drive to confront serious criminality within their respective areas.”