‘Red Hand Commando legalisation abhorrent to victims’ - Kelly
Any move to legalise the Red Hand Commando is ludicrous and abhorrent to their victims, Sinn Féin MLA Gerry Kelly has said.
The North Belfast MLA was speaking after it was confirmed that members of the proscribed loyalist paramilitary group met the British Home Office to formally request legalisation.
“The idea that the Red Hand Commando could in anyway become a community organisation is ludicrous,” Gerry Kelly said.
“How, and more importantly why, would you have a paramilitary organisation working as a community group? And what does that say to the victims of this organisation if their status and their activities is to be somehow legitimised? I am sure victims would find that abhorrent.
“It is well known that the Red Hand Commando was created as part of the UVF, just as the UFF was created as part of the UDA. They also used a number of other flags of convenience such as the Protestant Action Force and the Orange Volunteers to carry out a campaign of sectarian murder.
“These organisations are all still involved in criminal activity including extortion, drug dealing and murder. That activity is actually on the increase and just this week The Red Hand Commando’s partners in the UVF were blamed for a gun attack which targeted a bedroom with three young children in it.
“Of course ex-prisoners and ex members of these groups are free to become involved in community organisations and to seek to play a positive role in society. That should be welcomed but they don’t need a legalised paramilitary group which is still connected to criminal activity in order to do that. What the Red Hand Commando, along with all other paramilitary organisations should do, is disband.”