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Anti-paramilitary scheme threatened by Stormont fallout

By Jonny Bell

A £50m plan to tackle paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland could be under threat due to political instability, it is feared.

The collapse of Stormont and a lack of agreed budget could have an impact "on the delivery of a meaningful programme to eradicate paramilitary activity", an academic warned.

Dr Jonny Byrne from Ulster University was speaking as senior police revealed that the PSNI is dealing with a paramilitary death threat every day in Belfast.

Superintendent Norman Haslett was responding after it emerged a 14-year-old girl was under death threat from dissident republican terrorists.

He told the BBC's Nolan Show that while he could not discuss individual cases, those threatened "were perceived as being involved in low-level crime".

"There can be no justification whatsoever for issuing threats to anyone, particularly to children," he said.

"And that those behind the threats are, at the very least, predatory criminals. Any civilised society would see a threat against a child for what it is, child abuse."

Superintendent Haslett said the PSNI receive "quite a number of threats", with at least one a day in Belfast.

He added: "We are not waiting on receiving theses threats. We are constantly searching, gathering intelligence and scanning social media and other sources to see where these threats are."

Last year the Executive launched a £50m plan to tackle paramilitary activity in response to the recommendations of an independent panel's report.

The panel made a total of 43 recommendations on how politicians, police and criminal justice agencies could tackle paramilitarism.

However, there is now uncertainty over the future of the action plan.

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