Political crisis forced me to break promises, says Claire Sugden

Claire Sugden. Photo: Pacemaker Belfast
Claire Sugden. Photo: Pacemaker Belfast

Former Stormont justice minister Claire Sugden has hit out at the warring political parties for forcing her to break a number of promises to crime victims.

Ms Sugden said several important justice projects, including plans to tackle the scourge of paramilitarism and domestic abuse, have been left to languish because Sinn Fein and the DUP cannot reach an agreement.

“Many important plans have stalled while the main parties decide if they want to run the country or not. I have broken promises I made because of something out of my control. It is very frustrating,” said the independent unionist MLA.

A major inter-agency plan to tackle paramilitarism across Northern Ireland is one of many projects to stall because of the political crisis.

The £50 million action plan – published in July 2016 – was the executive’s response to the recommendations of an independent panel’s report.

The plan included a range of educational and community schemes aimed at deterring young people who are at risk of involvement in paramilitarism.

Ms Sugden said: “The plan was only ever going to be effective alongside a programme for government. It was about trying to strengthen communities and for people to take back ownership of their communities. Everything is just stalling while the main parties decide if they want to run the country or not.

“But the problems that exist in communities around paramilitarism continue.”