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David Cameron's anger over 'pensions for IRA terrorists' scheme

By Steven Alexander

Published 14/08/2015

Prime Minister David Cameron
Prime Minister David Cameron

The Prime Minister has said that no taxpayers' money should be spent on "pensions for those injured by their own hands while involved in terrorism".

It follows anger after it emerged that IRA members in Northern Ireland could be eligible for pensions - but not the terror group's victims in England.

David Cameron revealed his position in a letter to Gemma Berezag, whose husband Zaoui (75) suffered brain damage in the IRA's 1996 bombing of London's Docklands in which two people were killed and 39 were injured.

He was also left blind, paralysed, and has only one leg after the bomb - yet still wouldn't be eligible for a Troubles victims' pension.

Controversy surrounding the issue arose after it emerged that a Stormont Bill is being prepared to give a pension to around 400 of those most seriously injured here in the Troubles. It could see victims get up to £150 a week.

The pension was a key point of the stalled Stormont House Agreement. But it was criticised because it does not exclude terrorists, and 10 former paramilitaries are thought to qualify for the benefits.

And there is no similar scheme in Britain for Troubles victims there. Ms Berezag wrote to Mr Cameron, asking him to intervene.

"When I hear terrorists may be among hundreds receiving pensions, I am furious. They are nothing but killers, so why should they get this pension when we will not get a penny? We have gone through as much as victims in Ulster," she said at the time.

"We need help because it is so expensive to provide adequate care for Zaoui, and it's a struggle on what we get at the moment."

In his reply, Mr Cameron wrote: "I would like to acknowledge the tremendous suffering and pain that your husband has gone through as a result of the physical injuries caused by the Canary Wharf bombing.

"I agree with your concerns that taxpayers' money should not be spent on pensions for those injured by their own hands while involved in terrorism, and the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has been very clear on this."

Docklands bomb survivor Jonathan Ganesh said some IRA victims in Britain are in desperate need of help.

"To deny them a pension would be wrong. These victims need help and we should not let injustice stand," he said. "And you can't leave people behind."

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