Past time active loyalist paramilitary groups treated same as dissident republicans, says Eastwood

It is past time active loyalist paramilitary groups are treated the same as dissident republican groups are by the UK Government, Alliance MLA Sorcha Eastwood has said.

Sorcha Eastwood Paramilitary

She was speaking after media reports of senior UVF figures warning of loyalist violence relating to the upcoming Protocol deal between the UK and EU. Ms Eastwood said in 2023, such groups should not exist, nor other organisations normalising them.

“We stand here in a week which had echoes of our dark past, with a senior police officer shot and the New IRA being the primary focus of the enquiry into that horrific attack,” she said.

“We are in 2023. There is absolutely no excuse for that group, or any loyalist terror groups to exist whatsoever. They offer nothing but hatred, bigotry, violence and death, while trying to drag us back to the bad days.

“Now we have the UVF threatening violence around the Protocol. This stands in contrast to previous claims by the Independent Reporting Commission regarding loyalists transitioning away from violence.

“The UK Government can no longer continue with its current approach to loyalist paramilitaries – that their activities are simply criminality – and it is past time they treat them the same as they do dissident republicans.

“In addition, organisations such as the Loyalist Communities Council, which normalises the activity of the UVF and others, needs to leave the stage, instead of giving credibility to these terrorist thugs.”