20/10/2015

Republican And Loyalist Terrorist Groups Still Exist - Villiers

Republican and loyalist terrorist groups in Northern Ireland still exist, a Government independent review has found.

All of the groups that declared ceasefires in the 1990s have gone on to commit murders, according to the Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers.

However, Ms Villiers said that while they still exist, it is in a "much reduced form".

Ms Villiers said: "On the purpose of these groups the report concludes that 'it is our firm assessment that the leaderships of the main paramilitary groups are committed to peaceful means to achieve their political objectives' but that 'we judge that individual members of paramilitary groups with a legacy of violent activity still represent a threat to national security'."

She continued: "Working with the main political parties and society more broadly we need a strategy to lead us to the point where these organisations no longer exist and their influence is removed from Northern Ireland once and for all.

"That is one of the two main goals of the talks that I’m chairing at Stormont and it is an outcome to which all parties say they are committed.

"The other goal is to secure the full implementation of the Stormont House Agreement.
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"I believe that those talks represent the best chance of making progress on both these vital issues and the best chance of finding a way forward that helps build a brighter, more secure future for everyone in Northern Ireland."

Minister of Justice, David Ford MLA said: "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."

(CD)

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