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DUP 'exploiting conflict survivors'

Published 16/04/2015

William McCrea says the DUP wants a UK-wide definition of a victim that excludes terrorist perpetrators
William McCrea says the DUP wants a UK-wide definition of a victim that excludes terrorist perpetrators

A group representing conflict victims in Northern Ireland has accused the DUP of exploiting survivors for political convenience.

Relatives for Justice represents bereaved families.

Its director Mark Thompson said his members were being traumatised again after the DUP said it would seek a UK-wide victim definition which excluded terrorists.

He said: "This does very little for the real needs of victims and survivors and most certainly could be seen as being duplicitous, exploitative of that few, not to mention further damaging in terms of re-traumatising."

South Antrim DUP Westminster candidate William McCrea has said the party will use its influence in a hung parliament in an attempt to secure a UK-wide definition of a victim which excludes terrorist perpetrators.

He argued it is immoral that the current definition places the perpetrator and the victim on a par.

"It is unacceptable that the terrorist pulling the trigger should be treated the same way as the innocent victim."

His comments angered some victims, Mr Thompson said.

" In our society there was hurt inflicted by all sides, combatant 'perpetrators' on all sides, wrongdoing on all sides."

The DUP held the most seats of any Northern Ireland party in the last parliamentary mandate. It has published a list of demands in exchange for forming part of a coalition after the General Election, including scrapping the so-called bedroom tax on benefit claimants.

Mr Thompson said: "Seeking to continue on a course of political aggression about the past without acknowledgement that perpetrators also wore uniforms, and excluding only some of those harmed and hurt as a consequence of our conflict, undermines the wider public interest of seeking proper resolution, genuine peace and real reconciliation.

"Ignoring the causes, nature and consequences of that same conflict is convenient.

"Ignoring that those who held political office and within state forces, and their agents, retain anonymity and impunity and therefore will fall outside of the remit of any proposed DUP bill is also politically convenient. It is disingenuous.

"This too questions a commitment to peace-building."

The Victims and Survivors (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 said a victim was someone physically or psychologically injured as a result of a conflict-related incident, or someone who provides substantial care to an injured person or someone who has been bereaved.

It did not refer to perpetrators.

The DUP has sought to change this at Westminster and Stormont through private members' bills. Due to a lack of support from the nationalist SDLP and opposition from Sinn Fein, this matter has not been progressed, Mr McCrea said.

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