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New anti-terror task force is long overdue

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 11/08/2016

John Boreland was murdered in north Belfast
John Boreland was murdered in north Belfast

Eighteen years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement terrorists are still holding a gun to the head of the peace process. The brutal murder of UDA man John Boreland in Belfast on Sunday, apparently by fellow loyalists, shows that the default position of the terror gangs is still to bring out the weapons to enforce their own warped sense of justice.

Whatever Mr Boreland was deemed guilty of, there can be no place for self-appointed juries and executioners in this society in 2016, and news that a special PSNI task force is being formed with the intention of dismantling paramilitary bodies - both loyalist and republican - will be welcomed warmly by all law-abiding people in the province.

For these organisations - far from being self-styled defenders of their communities - enslave the areas in which they hold sway. They drive away would-be investors, denying people the opportunity to break the cycle of deprivation which they endure - and then demand with menaces both loyalty and finance through their protection rackets.

The gangs are heavily involved in all types of criminality, from poisoning young people with drugs to sheer thuggery including kneecapping and murder, as was seen in the tragic case of Michael McGibbon, who bled to death in an Ardoyne alleyway after being shot in the legs by dissident repubicans.

Not content with bleeding their communities dry through organised crime, the paramilitary bodies also have the gall to seek public money in Government-sanctioned initiatives designed to wean them away from crime. No previous such initiatives have worked.

To the long-suffering people of Northern Ireland a robust anti-terror initiative as proposed by the PSNI, both clamping down on paramilitary crimes and seizing the ill-gotten gains of the godfathers, is the right signal to send out.

For too long there has been an impression that the paramilitaries are tolerated, providing they don't endanger the peace process too seriously.

Among those who will most welcome this proposal are the victims' groups, who feel that their suffering has been in vain and that unrepentant terrorists hold more sway in the political process than they do in their search for justice of any kind. To them it had been deeply offensive to see the very groups which killed or injured their loved ones continue to flourish, apparently beyond the reach of the law.

Belfast Telegraph

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