Ulster Unionist Peer Lord Empey has urged the Government to act now to ensure the full operation of the National Crime Agency within Northern Ireland.
Lord Empey said:
“For some time now the Ulster Unionist Party has been calling on the Government to ensure the NCA is able to operate to its full extent within Northern Ireland, as in the rest of the United Kingdom, to ensure that we in the Province are not left more vulnerable to serious and organised crime.
“I recently received a Parliamentary written answer in which the Government stated that “early resolution of this issue is essential to avoid gaps emerging in law enforcement in Northern Ireland in areas where there is serious public concern, such as drug enforcement, human trafficking and other forms of serious criminality.”
“I couldn’t agree more with this assessment of how important it is that the NCA operates fully within the Province.
“I also noted the Government stated its strong support “for the discussions currently underway between the Northern Ireland parties and the Department of Justice in Northern Ireland on securing the full operation of the National Crime Agency in Northern Ireland.”
“In my opinion it is absolutely essential that the SDLP and Sinn Fein abandon their current stance and enable the National Crime Agency to operate in the Province in exactly the same manner as the rest of the United Kingdom.
“Failure to do so will mean those parties are risking leaving Northern Ireland more vulnerable to terrorist attack and organised criminality than the rest of the UK and becoming a weak link which could be exploited by terrorist and criminal groups wishing to operate in Great Britain.
“I make no apology for re-stating Ulster Unionist policy, namely that we need a fully operational National Crime Agency in Northern Ireland to tackle serious and organised crime including the exploitation of children, human trafficking, drug smuggling and cyber-crime.”