Ulster Unionist Party Leader Robin Swann MLA has led a delegation comprising Chief Whip Steve Aiken MLA, Policing Board representative Alan Chambers MLA, East Belfast MLA Andy Allen, and East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs, which met with senior Police officers to discuss a range of issues including recent paramilitary shows of strength in Belfast.
Speaking after the meeting Robin Swann MLA said:
“Today an Ulster Unionist delegation met with senior PSNI officers at our request to discuss a number of issues. We originally wanted to highlight the public concern at the two paramilitary shows of strength which took place in Belfast recently to commemorate dead terrorists – one a child killer - and which involved masked republicans firing automatic weapons.
“The sight of well-maintained and modern looking weaponry in the hands of terrorist groups supposedly on ceasefire raises a number of questions which we posed. Are these weapons from the hides where they should have been decommissioned? Have these hides been compromised? Are they new weapons that have been sourced and brought into Northern Ireland illegally after decommissioning was supposed to have been completed?
“We have asked for an updated assessment of the capabilities of these terrorist organisations, and in particular want to know if they are regarded as still being on ceasefire or are they in the process of re-arming and restructuring? We also need to know where these weapons are coming from.
“We also raised the recent incidents of republican violence such as the murder of Lyra McKee and the attempted murder of a police officer at Shandon Park Golf Club.
“The Ulster Unionist Party is very clear that the type of society we are trying to build here is one in which there is no space for anyone who uses, threatens or condones violence. The presence of senior Sinn Fein members Bobby Storey, Gerry Kelly and Sean Murray at the funeral of Peter Rooney has not gone unnoticed. We are very clear that terrorism was as wrong in 1969 as it was in 1989 and as wrong as it is today in 2019. It is madness that 21 years after the Belfast Agreement, these people are still treated as politically motivated offenders and able to avail of a separated prison regime.
“I commend the Police and the security services for all the work they do to combat the terrorist threat from both republicans and so-called loyalists. Our bottom line is that no community should have to endure the sight of masked men on their streets firing weapons and disrespecting law and order.”