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Beattie queries composition of panel to discuss ending paramilitary activity

Ulster Unionist Justice Spokesperson Doug Beattie MC MLA, has queried the presence of a man still under live investigation on gunrunning charges, on a panel to discuss ending paramilitary activity.

Doug Beattie MLA said:

“A panel discussion organised by the Executive Office, has been scheduled for next Tuesday in Belfast responding to the first report of the Independent Reporting Commission. The Commission was established under the Fresh Start Agreement of 2015 to report on progress toward ending paramilitary activity.

“The panel is to be chaired by a representative of the Community Relations Council, and will include representatives of the PSNI and one of the members of the Independent Reporting Commission. It also includes Sean Murray who is representing Sinn Fein.

“This is noteworthy because just over two weeks ago it was reported that Sean Murray was under investigation in relation to an IRA gun running operation from Florida. The PPS stated that:

‘The PPS has received a file from police in relation to an allegation of possession of firearms with intent against a 65-year-old man. The file, which was received in June 2018, is under active consideration and a decision will issue in due course.’

“One of the main problems with regard to ending paramilitary is the hold which terror gangs have over communities, and the presence of some self-appointed community groups which are closely linked to paramilitary organisations.

“I know from experience that genuine community groups, with no agenda other than the desire to work for the betterment of their local communities, often struggle to access funding and key decision makers and are left looking on in frustration and bewilderment as individuals and groups with connections to paramilitary groups, seem to have easy access to both funding and decision makers.         

“The Executive Office needs to explain just why a panel aimed at discussing how we can end paramilitary activity has someone on it who is the subject of a live criminal investigation into gunrunning. And the Chief Constable needs to explain why his force is represented on a panel with such an individual.”

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