Belfast Telegraph

Payouts urged for wounded police

Officers wounded while protecting the public should be properly compensated, the organisation overseeing policing in Northern Ireland has said.

Policeman Peadar Heffron, 35, lost a leg after a device planted by dissidents opposed to the peace process exploded under his car in Randalstown, Co Antrim, as he drove to work in January 2010.

He has been unable to secure an industrial injury benefit and the Police Federation has taken up his case.

Policing Board chairman Brian Rea told its monthly meeting in Belfast: "Attacks on police officers are not acceptable and must not be tolerated.

"Officers injured as a result of their direct employment must receive the compensation they are entitled to."

He said the decision taken in the recent industrial injuries case showed the urgent need for review, adding any legislative change required must be progressed urgently. The board will write to Stormont justice minister David Ford about the issue.

The controversy centres on regulations which effectively query whether Mr Heffron was on duty at the time of the attack.

The Catholic officer played Gaelic football and operated as an Irish language specialist for the new-look service, which has sought to attract greater numbers of recruits from the nationalist community. The attempt on his life was seen as an effort to deter Catholic support for the cross-community PSNI.

The car bombing was condemned by all the main political parties. It is understood lawyers for the officer are pursuing the case and Police Federation chairman Terry Spence has said he will write to Stormont's Department for Social Development, which is ultimately responsible for the issue.

Industrial injuries benefit is a social security benefit. It is payable only where an employee suffers a personal injury in an accident arising out of and in the course of his employment. It is not a form of compensation.

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