No role for paramilitaries in today's society: PUP
PUP councillor John Kyle has said loyalists still involved in continued criminality are parasites, who are destroying lives and contributing nothing of worth to their communities.
Dr Kyle said that while substantial progress has been made in the 25 years since the loyalist ceasefires, he believes the continued existence of some organised crime gangs "is primarily a policing failure".
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph ahead of tomorrow's anniversary of the 1994 ceasefire, the retired GP said: "Paramilitary organisations arose because of our conflict. There is no role or justification for them in the Northern Ireland of 2019. Some excellent work has been done in transitioning these organisations into positive citizenship (eg the ACT organisation, Reach, Charter NI) and many ex-combatants are making valuable contributions to their local communities.
"However, persistent criminality on the part of some is a corrosive, unwanted legacy of the past which is damaging many young lives."
Reflecting on the events of October 13, 1994 when former UVF leader Gusty Spence declared at a news conference in Belfast that loyalists would end their violence at midnight, Dr Kyle added: "Gusty Spence's expression of 'abject and true remorse to the innocent victims of loyalist violence' captured the hope within loyalism that political violence would be a thing of the past and dialogue and politics the way forward.
"The hope was to create a peaceful and prosperous future through shared responsibility."
Dr Kyle was co-opted onto Belfast City Council after PUP leader David Ervine's death in 2007.
In 2010 he urged the PUP to sever all ties with the UVF.
Now, nine years on from that, he said: "We have made substantial progress in the past 25 years.
"Within loyalist communities there is no support for political violence.
"They have no support within loyalist communities but they can only be effectively dealt with through the PSNI and the criminal justice system. Frankly, their continued existence is primarily a policing failure."
Referring to the ongoing impasse over Brexit, and the absence of a functioning powersharing Assembly Executive at Stormont, Dr Kyle warned: "The future is more precarious and politics is failing.
"There is now an even greater imperative to find a way forward that enables Northern Ireland to function politically, economically and socially.
"It will require determined leadership, dialogue and a willingness to take risks in finding common ground.
"My conversations with ex-combatants convinces me that they overwhelmingly support this view.
"Their generation delivered peace, this generation must not squander it."