Stormont needs detailed plan to unlock £5m to tackle paramilitaries

Recent paramilitary activity included the murder of a father in Belfast
Recent paramilitary activity included the murder of a father in Belfast

Money to tackle paramilitary activity in Northern Ireland has not been released by the UK Government because Stormont ministers need to agree a more detailed plan.

Some £5 million from the Treasury is subject to the Executive in Belfast promoting a strategy to combat the terror threat.

A father was shot dead in Belfast earlier this month and dissidents have been responsible for a string of so-called “punishment attacks” as well as targeting members of the security forces.

The UVF has been active in drug-dealing and racketeering in recent years, police have said.

Stormont Finance Minister Mairtin O Muilleoir said: “The secretary of state (James Brokenshire) has advised that the UK Government funding will not be released until the Executive agrees a more detailed action plan.

“The Department of Justice will be progressing this to ensure access to this funding is secured.”

Last year’s Fresh Start Agreement between the British and Irish governments and local political leaders pledged to address paramilitarism and tackle organised crime.

The landmark political agreement was struck between the DUP, Sinn Fein and the UK and Irish governments and resolved a political crisis sparked by a murder linked to the Provisional IRA.

A total of £10 million was to be set aside this year to tackle continuing paramilitary activity. Half was to come from the Executive and half from Westminster, the latter being subject to the Executive agreeing a strategy to address continued paramilitary activity.

A total of £4 million of the Executive’s allocation has been spent, officials said.

Police are beefing up resources dedicated to tackling paramilitary-linked criminality as part of the plan to eradicate the terror groups.