Loyalist paramilitaries are “masquerading” as community workers in Limavady, according to East Londonderry MLA John Dallat.
Mr Dallat made his remarks during a recent debate at Stormont following the shocking UDA violence in Larne at the end of last month. The SDLP MLA said that it was “important to broaden the condemnation to include the whole of Northern Ireland.”
Mr Dallat claimed that he knew that in “Coleraine, Limavady, Ballymoney, Lurgan and other areas where the same organisations are masquerading as community workers and, at times, even applying for grants.”
He said: “The message from this Assembly must have no buts and no ifs. Most, if not all, of us came into the democratic process to oppose paramilitary activity, from wherever it came. We know from history that paramilitaries failed us. We must now be very clear in our condemnation that there is no place for any paramilitarism. Even having to refer to paramilitaries is an indication that, in some ways, we have failed. Sixteen years after the Good Friday or Belfast Agreement, we still refer to organisations such as the UDA, which should not be there.
“When scenes such as those in Larne appear on our screens, it is an indication that we must redouble our activities politically to ensure that they never get a foothold again. Paramilitaries watch for weaknesses in the political system; that is how they operate.
“Perhaps there is a warning to all political parties that we are not doing enough to ensure that there are no vacuums, opportunities or chances for the commanders and brigadiers, and all the other fancy titles they give themselves, to get a grip in any part of Northern Ireland again. I know Larne reasonably well, and there are very good people there. I know Coleraine, Limavady, Ballymoney, Lurgan and other areas where the same organisations are masquerading as community workers and, at times, even applying for grants.
“It is good to have the opportunity to talk about this. Protestant and Catholic parents encouraged their sons and daughters to join the Police Service of Northern Ireland. It is absolutely disgraceful that, on any occasion, any police officer is attacked by people who masquerade as the alternative to law and order.”