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Report echoes our call to defeat terror

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 08/06/2016

Paramilitary groups still plague our society
Paramilitary groups still plague our society

The important recommendations of the panel investigating paramilitary activity, which was published yesterday, echo many of the concerns expressed by this newspaper concerning the need to resource adequately the battle against dissident republicans and the remnants of loyalist terrorist organisations.

Some of the conclusions might seem all too obvious, including the observation that former paramilitaries "are still engaged in violence, intimidation and other criminal activities for personal gain".

Nevertheless, its recommendations are most welcome. While we take no pleasure in being proven right, it is refreshing to see that the authors of the report have been covering much the same ground as this newspaper.

This includes the prioritisation of investment to increase and deepen the investigative capacity of the police in this important area of their activities.

The Belfast Telegraph has called consistently for concerted and clearly joined-up action from the Stormont Executive, the PSNI and its funders - the Policing Board - to give the Chief Constable sufficient resources to tackle the paramilitary problem, which continues to disfigure our society.

The Report also recommends, and rightly so, the UK Government's need to better resource the National Crime Agency and HMRC to ensure that they too can prioritise intensive work to tackle all kinds of organised crime which is linked to paramilitary groups here.

The scale of the problem is underlined by the bare statistics set out in the report.

Around 1,000 people were driven from their homes between 2012/13 and 2014/15 by paramilitaries within their own community.

Despite the fierce opposition from republicans, the introduction of the National Crime Agency into Northern Ireland policing has been like a breath of fresh air.

This is partly because they bring their wider, national-grade experience and know- how to investigate a variety of criminal enterprises here, and - significantly - these do not all have paramilitary links.

Nevertheless, all policing strategies will inevitably be judged as successes or failures, based on their results.

However, with common sense and support from our politicians, as well as the vital provision of adequate funding, the tide might just be turning against the last vestiges of our sordid paramilitary past.

It is about time too.

Belfast Telegraph

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