SDLP MLA calls for the term 'paramilitaries' to be ditched
SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly has called for the term 'paramilitaries' to be scrapped from common usage, with the groups instead to be referred to as 'criminals'.
The party's Policing and Justice Spokesperson made the comments after attending a Communities in Transition briefing by Co-operation Ireland, an all-Ireland peace-building charity.
“For too long we have given local criminal gangs too much legitimacy by referring to them as paramilitaries. There is no such thing as paramilitary violence or paramilitary activity, there is only violence and criminal activity," she said.
"Those involved in ruling our communities with an iron fist, guilty of racketeering, drug dealing and intimidation have no right to be heralded as anything more than criminals."
Mrs Kelly's comments were echoed by Peter Sheridan, the chief executive of the Co-operation Ireland charity.
The remarks come amid a renewed focus legacy issues and historical investigations into the actions of groups active during the Troubles.
This week a group of eight Westminster peers, including four former Secretaries of State, signed an open letter to Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley calling for a £150m package to deal with legacy issues being used to compensate victims, rather than pursue investigations.
In response to this Mrs Kelly said the two elements of dealing with the legacy process were not mutually exclusive, and said: "Legacy is not an a la cart menu, where you can pick and choose what outcome suits you on any given day."
Belfast Telegraph Digital