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Blueprint on paramilitary crime far too weak: Ford

By Noel McAdam

Published 21/07/2016

Former Justice Minister David Ford has sharply rebuked his successor over the Executive's £50m plan to tackle paramilitarism.

The Alliance leader said if he had still been in post he would not have accepted the "utterly weak" proposals published on Tuesday.

His successor Claire Sugden endorsed the plan, along with First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness.

Under it an Independent Reporting Commission (IRC) will be established by the UK and Irish governments, with responsibility for reporting annually on progress towards ending paramilitary activity.

Mr Ford said: "Had I still been Minister of Justice, I would have expected the Executive response to contain clear targets, identifying which department had responsibility, timescales for implementation, and funding to be provided. Instead, we have a series of vague generalisations, some merely accepting the panel's report without anything specific."

Ms Sugden said the plan "affirms the Executive's commitment to addressing paramilitarism through a considered, realistic and inclusive approach".

She added: "We have laid a firm foundation in how we tackle this issue, setting the tone for the detailed work ahead."

Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbutt described the plan as "utterly bereft of concrete actions". He said the blueprint was more of a "promissory note" than a plan and warned some of the £50m could end up acting as a "slush fund" for terror groups.

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