Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Terror payout laws 'indefensible'

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said it was 'plain wrong' that terrorists should have the same legal status as innocent victims of violence

It is "morally indefensible" that terrorists from Northern Ireland's Troubles have the same status under the law as the innocent victims of violence in the province, an MP said.

The DUP's Jeffrey Donaldson said the law needed to be changed to distinguish between the innocent victims of terrorist attacks and those who had carried out the violence.

He said that under the Northern Ireland Act 1998, victims and terrorists were entitled to the same compensation payments.

Proposing his Victims and Survivors (Northern Ireland) Bill under the 10 minute rule motion, the MP for Lagan Valley told the House of Commons his proposed legislation would not treat republican and loyalist communities any differently from each other.

He said: "The reality is that today in Northern Ireland, the people who perpetrated these acts of terrorism, whether they are republican or loyalist, or any other affiliation, if they were injured through the Troubles, if through an act of their own commission they were subjected to psychological trauma or physical injury, they are regarded as a victim and survivor for the purposes of the current legislation.

"I believe simply that this is morally indefensible and it is deeply hurtful to the innocent victims on both sides in Northern Ireland.

"We are not just talking here about IRA atrocities, we are talking about atrocities committed by loyalist paramilitaries as well.

"The notion that those who went out with guns and bombs to take innocent life are themselves regarded as innocent victims, or victims and survivors under the definition of the current legislation, is just plain wrong."

He added: "Can you imagine the outcry that there would be if today this Government was to introduce legislation that determined those who planted bombs on the London Underground and on buses here in our capital city, and exploded those bombs murdering innocent people in this city, were regarded as the same as those who they murdered? And yet in Belfast... the victims have to put up with that being a reality."

Mr Donaldson's Bill, which has support from MPs across the House, was unopposed as it was introduced to the Commons. It is listed to appear again on November 22 but is unlikely to make further progress due to lack of parliamentary time.

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