Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Troubles service 'is not fit for purpose'

MLAs have launched a blistering attack on the new service set up by Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness to tackle the needs of victims of the Troubles.

Senior officials from the Victims and Survivors Service appeared before the Stormont committee which monitors the office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister earlier this week – and were bluntly told, "get your act together".

The trenchant criticism from both unionist and nationalist Assembly Members came after Victims Commissioner Kathryn Stone warned the system was "not fit for purpose", with interview procedures which are re-traumatising victims.

Anne Dorbie, manager of the service, which has a staff of 37, said a "project board" has been set up to deal with the complaints, which are being taken "extremely seriously."

The DUP's Jimmy Spratt led the charge during the 70-minute session, telling Mrs Dorbie and her co-officials Katrina Hinfey and Sara Templar: "You are still not delivering and making victims feel they are being reassessed. You need to start getting your act together."

Mr Spratt said the service had admitted failing to answer telephones and emails and making applicants provide three months of back statements, even though they were already assessed.

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