Belfast Telegraph

Brokenshire rebuffs issue of Troubles victims' pensions

By Noel McAdam

Secretary of State James Brokenshire has come under fire for refusing to include a pension for Troubles' victims in a public consultation later this year.

The Wave Trauma Centre said Mr Brokenshire could decide to put the issue, which affects around 500 people, into his plan to involve the public in dealing with the legacy of the Troubles.

The centre yesterday brought a group of people left injured by incidents during the Troubles to meet a Secretary of State for the first time. But Mr Brokenshire and his officials insisted the issue of a pension was a devolved matter and will not be included in the consultation he intends to go ahead with.

But the charity's Alan McBride argued afterwards: "I think he would be doing the DUP and Sinn Fein a massive favour if he was to include the pension proposal in the consultation. We recognise it is quite a toxic issue for the DUP if, as they see it, IRA members injured by their own hands are to be given pensions. By the same token Sinn Fein cannot say it will just leave its own people behind, it would suffer then in terms of support from its own community."

Mr McBride, who lost his wife Sharon and father-in-law Desmond Frizzell in the IRA's Shankill Road bombing in October 1993, said he had challenged Mr Brokenshire during the meeting.

"I would have thought if he wanted to he could take the necessary legal action to include the pensions issue in the consultation. Surely it's a legacy matter more than a devolved matter," he added.

The wider group of around 500 people who form part of what Wave calls its 'injured group' were left so badly harmed that they were unable to work and could not build up pensions, so some of them are now having to live on benefits.

A spokesman for Mr Brokenshire said he was "keen to listen to what they have to say and will reflect carefully before considering the next steps for taking forward the legacy consultation". But in relation to the pensions proposal he added: "It is a devolved issue."

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