Anti-terror commission due ‘before end of 2016’

James Brokenshire said efforts to disband paramilitary groups require concerted effort
James Brokenshire said efforts to disband paramilitary groups require concerted effort

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has said that he expects an anti-paramilitary group to be set up by the end of the year.

James Brokenshire, in a speech at the British-Irish Association Conference on Friday night, also said that support for people who give evidence in paramilitary cases should be better served.

In February this year, a piece of legislation was presented to the Commons which aimed to establish an Independent Reporting Commission.

Its aim, according to the legislation (which has since passed through Parliament), is “to promote progress towards ending paramilitary activity connected with Northern Ireland”.

Mr Brokenshire said: “I look forward to signing the treaty along with Charlie Flanagan [the Irish foreign minister] shortly that will enable the UK and Irish governments, along with the Executive, to get the new commission up and running by the end of the year.”

He also added that efforts to disband paramilitary groups require “concerted effort”.

This includes looking at “how we can better support people coming forward to give evidence in paramilitary-linked cases”.

He added: “And we need to ensure that the criminal justice system works to prosecute more of these people and put them behind bars for longer.”