Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 16 April 2014

IRA man’s widow appeals minister’s refusal on payout

The widow of an ex-IRA man beaten to death after his prison release, has gone to the Court of Appeal in a new bid to win compensation.

Anne-Marie McCallion, whose husband Peter was jailed for an ambush on British troops in Londonderry, is seeking to overturn the Secretary of State's decision to refuse her a discretionary pay-out.

She was denied access to the criminal injuries compensation scheme because of the seriousness of the crimes.

Mr McCallion, a Derry man, served an 18-year sentence for attempted murder, weapons offences and membership of the IRA.

He was convicted of involvement in a gun attack on troops from the Queen's Regiment during a patrol at Racecourse Road in the city in August 1978.

Following his release from prison there was no evidence that he maintained any paramilitary links, but in December 1998 he was fatally injured, at the age of 40, during a confrontation in the city.

An examination of his death by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Agency found no suggestion that the attack had been sectarian.

A recommendation that awarding compensation to his widow would not be in the public interest was accepted by a Government minister on behalf of the Secretary of State.

Mrs McCallion and her children have failed four times to judicially review that decision. Their case centred on an argument that the refusal breached UN Convention on the Rights of the Child protections against discrimination or punishment based on a parent's activities.

It has also been contended that the Secretary of State has never properly given reasons for his decision.

Paul Maguire QC, responding for the Secretary of State, insisted explanations given previously remained clear.

“Mr McCallion was convicted of extremely serious offences,” the barrister said.

“Faced with a person with convictions of that gravity it was obvious what was likely to hold him back from the award of discretionary compensation.”

Lord Justice Higgins, sitting with Lord Justice Girvan and Mr Justice Weir, reserved judgement in the appeal.

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