Time to boot paramilitary trappings - Dallat

If the peace process is to be seen as genuine and truly representing a new chapter in our troubled history East Derry MLA, John Dallat, says the question must be asked as to why flags of Loyalist paramilitaries are flying from street standards in various towns across the North without as much as a nod or a wink from government departments and their agencies.

“If terror groups were to do this in other parts of the world where there is post-war agreement to live in peace there would be outrage and steps taken to remove these emblems glorifying death and destruction. n the past few weeks the UVF, who appear to be the principal offenders have demonstrated very clearly that they are still claiming territory either by organising riots or painting war mongering murals on gable walls.

‘It is time to stop finding excuses for ignoring this menace. UVF flags with 1912 on them are every bit as offensive as any others. Men who fought in the First World War either with the 36th Ulster Division, formed out of the old UVF of that date, would turn in their graves if they knew the current terror group was paying them homage. It is also highly offensive to the soldiers of the 16th Irish Division and other Irish regiments who fought alongside.

‘People who live in any town or village are entitled to a neutral environment free from intimidation. This practice which appears more prevalent this year than ever makes a mockery of the investment made in the peace process. There is no room for any group that operates outside the law, is up to its neck in illegal activities and still actively working to create ghettos across the North.

‘The silence of those who could bring this to an end is deafening but it hasn’t gone unnoticed with the ordinary people who want to live in peace, build genuine bridges between communities and among communities.It may not be fashionable to rock the boat but if hard work is not done to drive out the evil influences that created the mayhem in the first place then we are not going forward.