120785 - Terrorism: Northern Ireland (Answered)

Lady Hermon
To ask the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, what assessment he has made of trends in the levels of recruitment to loyalist paramilitary groups in each of the last three years; and if he will make a statement.

Mr Shailesh Vara

Paramilitary groups were not justified in the past and they are not justified today. The then incumbent Secretary of State for Northern Ireland commissioned an assessment of paramilitary groups which was published in October 2015 and concluded that all the main loyalist paramilitary groups remain in existence.

We continue to work with NI Executive Departments on their tackling paramilitarism programme to which the UK Government has committed £25m of funding. The NI Executive has matched this commitment. This programme involves actions aimed at long-term prevention, including supporting those who may be vulnerable to recruitment, building confidence in the justice system, tackling criminal activity and building community capacity to support transition.

The Independent Reporting Commission (IRC), established by the UK and Irish governments, was legally constituted in August 2017. It will report annually on progress towards ending paramilitary activity including the implementation of the relevant measures by the UK and Irish governments and the NI Executive’s action plan.

Having Northern Ireland Executive Ministers in place to provide strategic direction for this important programme of work is one of the reasons for my primary focus being on the restoration of devolved government.