Belfast Telegraph

Crackdown on paramilitary leaders part of £50m plan to fight terror

By Noel McAdam

An overhaul of how police chiefs deal with paramilitary leaders is part of an ambitious £50m five-year plan to combat terror groups.

The change of approach in engaging with paramilitary figures would also apply to other public and community bodies and elected representatives.

It is contained in a series of recommendations published yesterday in the Action Plan for Tackling Paramilitary Activity, Criminality and Organised Crime, following the report of an independent panel set up in the wake of the Fresh Start deal.

"Ending paramilitary activity is a challenging ambition that will inevitably involve a period of transition ­- but transition cannot continue indefinitely," the plan states.

The Executive is to establish a fund "to support initiatives developing partnerships across civil society and community divisions" as part of the scheme.

First Minister Arlene Foster, Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness and Justice Minister Claire Sugden said the plan provided "a unique opportunity to tackle paramilitary activity collectively as an Executive".

The multi-faceted approach to tackling paramilitaries would range from robust action on the part of law enforcement to actions that support communities "in bringing about a transition away from paramilitarism".

Community, voluntary and sports organisations would also be involved in "taking a stand against criminality", the report indicated.

The Department of Education is also to develop initiatives to ensure that schools and youth groups dealing with the effects of paramilitary activity on young people are trained to identify risk factors.

The report additionally calls for a new four-member Independent Reporting Commission, which will be established by the UK and Irish Governments.

It will have responsibility for reporting annually on progress made towards ending paramilitary activity, and on the implementation of the proposals across State departments.

The Government is to provide £25m, which will be matched by the Executive, giving a total of £50m from 2016 to 2021.

Belfast Telegraph


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