Unionist politicians in east Belfast have endorsed a statement from church leaders, calling for loyalist paramilitaries to “civilianise” immediately.
The move comes after faith leaders in the east of the city united to issue a statement challenging the UVF and UDA.
A debate over whether paramilitaries will ever relinquish control in east Belfast has reignited following Ian Ogle’s murder in Cluan Place over two weeks ago.
The 45-year-old died after being stabbed 11 times near his home on 27 January.
On Wednesday Unionist politicians spoke out, supporting the church leader's plea.
DUP Councillor George Dorrian said: “The level of (public) disgust… I haven’t seen anything quite like it.
“I think hopefully that will be a catalyst for change.”
Cllr John Kyle PUP said: “The message is going out loud and clear. I think people are very aware of the problems and issues in east Belfast.
"No one is happy with the level of criminality.”
He added: “Clearly there is a police and criminal justice element to resolving the problem of criminality and drug dealing. But there are also issues we as a society need to address.”
The Alliance party leader however voiced scepticism over what difference a statement, such as the one made by the church leader’s, can make.
Naomi Long MLA said: “We have seen people on platforms in various halls around east Belfast, and around Belfast, say that this is a new start, that we’re not going to see that violence return to our streets, and that the past is the past and they’re ready to move on."
She continued: “Yet every time it is like Groundhog Day, because we end up back in this cycle of violence."
“The important part of the church leader’s speech was their call on the PSNI to do everything they can to ensure that those who wilfully continue with this activity are taken off our streets.”
- Judith Hill reports: