Greens in call to remove public funding from organisations linked to criminals

Steven Agnew
Steven Agnew

The Green Party in Northern Ireland has called for the introduction of a mechanism whereby public funding can be withdrawn from community organisations whose members engage in illegal activity.

Leader Steven Agnew and deputy leader Clare Bailey, both MLAs for the small left-wing party, yesterday met with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers.

Mr Agnew said they discussed “a range of subjects, in particular those relating to legacy issues”.

He added: “We highlighted the issue of the public funding of community organisations where it is known that senior members continue to engage in criminal activity.

“These people wear suits by day but operate under the banner of paramilitaries by night.

“We pressed upon the Secretary of State the need for there to be a mechanism to withdraw funding from such organisations where there is evidence that senior members are involved in illegal acts.

“I want to be clear that those groups who have transitioned from criminality to genuine community work should be commended.

“However, for those who think they can cause the problems on the one hand and seek funding to resolve them on the other, we have to say to them their days are numbered.

“We need to move beyond the language of paramilitarism and call these people out for what they are – and that is criminals.”