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Government response to paramilitarism in NI report published

23 May 2024

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee has published the Government’s response to its report on the effect of paramilitary activity and organised crime in Northern Ireland.

The report, written before the restoration of Stormont, urged a twin-track policy of strengthening criminal justice and taking a public health approach to tackling continuing paramilitarism. It also identified economic hardship as a contributing factor to the conditions that are exploited by paramilitaries, and called for measures to improve benefits uptake and childcare provision.

In its response, the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) agreed to the premise of a public health approach by stating its commitment to promoting a trauma-informed policy. However, the response leaves to the NI Executive some of the Committee’s recommendations which rest upon policies that are set or supported by Whitehall.

Writing to NI Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris following the response, Committee Chair Sir Robert Buckland warned that the restoration of Northern Ireland’s political institutions “does not mean the Government can leave all matters now to the Executive”.

Sir Robert added that the Committee will urge its successor to keep a “watching brief” over measures to improve access to Universal Credit in NI after the NIO said only that it would continue “its regular engagement” with the Department of Work and Pensions. It will also urge a future Committee to continue to review funding for tackling paramilitarism, the letter said.

Further information

Image: House of Commons