I met representatives of the Ulster Political Research Group on Monday, 26 January last. I have long held the view that the opening of a dialogue with representatives of the loyalist community is important. The meeting was a logical follow-up to my meeting with the Loyalist Commission last June. I recognise the real concerns that loyalists have about issues that affect their communities, particularly jobs, housing and educational opportunities. I am encouraged by some of the positive work that is being done to address the problems in these communities. We want to be constructive and to assist in any way we can.
My views on paramilitarism and sectarianism are well known. I have made it clear to both republicans and loyalists that all such activity must cease. Violence and the threat of violence are not in anyone's interests. I deplore recent sectarian attacks, attacks against prison officers and racist attacks. Such illegalities and any other criminal activities must be dealt with by the police and those responsible brought to justice.