Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 24 May 2016

Independent Reporting Commission on NI paramilitary activity proposed

Published 10/02/2016

Theresa Villiers said a new Independent Reporting Commission is important.
Theresa Villiers said a new Independent Reporting Commission is important.

An Independent Reporting Commission on paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland is included in draft legislation introduced in Parliament on Wednesday.

The Northern Ireland (Stormont Agreement and Implementation Plan) Bill delivers some of the key aspects of recent Fresh Start and Stormont House agreements between the main parties and the British and Irish governments.

Last year Northern Ireland's senior police officer said the Provisional IRA still existed after a murder was linked to its members.

It plunged the political institutions into months of instability which threatened the survival of the devolved institutions.

Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said: "A new Independent Reporting Commission charged with holding the UK government, Executive and Irish government to account is important.

"Alongside the declaration that paramilitary activity will never be tolerated and a Joint Agency Task Force established last year, it provides a basis of a unified effort to rid Northern Ireland of the malign influence of these groups for good."

The proposed legislation modifies the pledge of office by Northern Ireland ministers to include fresh obligations to work together on ridding society of all forms of paramilitary activity and groups and includes a similar undertaking for Assembly members.

Since the Fresh Start Agreement, new welfare reform legislation has been put in place, a Joint Agency Task Force on organised crime established and a panel appointed to make recommendations on disbanding paramilitary groups.

Work also continues with victims' representatives and others on finding a way forward to address the legacy of Northern Ireland's violent past, Ms Villiers said.

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