Day of paramilitary groups has gone

It is hugely disturbing that in 2020 there are still small but determined armed groups within both republicanism and loyalism who firmly believe in the use of violence to achieve their aims.

Developments from last week put a direct spotlight on the activities of fringe elements who, more than two decades after the Good Friday Agreement was resoundingly endorsed by the electorate on both sides of the border, are still prepared to ignore its key message of peace and progress.

Last Thursday, we provided the most detailed report to date on the activities of Dennis McFadden, who has been named in court as an MI5 agent within the ranks of what has become known as the New IRA.

A number of individuals are facing serious criminal charges which have been linked to his undercover role, and they are fully entitled to the presumption of innocence in advance of any trial, but it is clear that at least one organisation still exists which is committed to bombing and shooting its way its towards its version of a united Ireland.

The overwhelming majority of nationalists have expressed a very different view through the ballot box, realising that their aspirations can be achieved through purely constitutional means and that the Brexit debacle has never brought the final end of the union closer to becoming a reality.

It is also obvious that the New IRA and its offshoots have been heavily infiltrated at all levels, and, while trying to inflict bloodshed and misery on innocent victims across the entire community, have embarked on a futile path which will only lead their followers towards long term prison sentences.

Loyalists also remain heavily involved in extortion, intimidation and even murder, as the appalling case of Glenn Quinn demonstrates beyond doubt.

Mr Quinn was beaten to death last January in a vicious attack at his Carrickfergus home carried out individuals believed to be linked to the South East Antrim UDA.

His family has now offered a £10,000 reward for information about the killing, and their search for justice deserves to be fully supported.

The New IRA and the South East Antrim UDA want to bring us back to the darkest periods of our history, but they have failed to understand that their day has come and gone.