Sinn Féin MLA and Justice spokesperson Gerry Kelly. has welcomed the publication of the fourth report from the Independent Reporting Commission (IRC) on tackling paramilitarism.
Gerry Kelly said :
“Today’s report highlights the need for strong political leadership to tackle the risks posed to society by the continuing existence of paramilitary structures which could be harnessed for the purpose or threat of violence for political ends.
“This should sit alongside the sustained empowerment of communities impacted by the scourge of paramilitarism. This necessitates a holistic approach to dealing with paramilitarism that includes tackling key systemic socio-economic issues, like deprivation, poverty, educational under-achievement etc, through long-term investment.
“The report highlights the downward trend in shootings and bombings over the past ten years, with the exception of a general rise in cases of paramilitary type assaults, mostly by Loyalist paramilitaries.
“It also recognises and commends the work of detached youth workers and community activists on the ground during disorder in interface areas last April and November.
“However, it also highlights the need to prioritise the establishment of a Centre of Excellence for Restorative Justice and the need to ‘reinvigorate’ work on ex-prisoner issues.
“It calls for the long delayed amendments to existing legislation (Fair Employment and Treatment Order) to help remove barriers to employment for ex-prisoners in support of re-integration.
“A key recommendation from the report is the creation of a transition process for paramilitary groups, as distinct from individuals, with the objective of their disbandment. We look forward to engaging with the other parties and the Commission on this and other outstanding issues in a shared desire to finally remove the scourge of paramilitarism.”