Belfast Telegraph

Politicians urged to work on pension for victims

BY NOEL MCADAM

The head of Northern Ireland's largest victims group has urged politicians to advance proposals for a pension for people left severely injured by the Troubles.

Professor Jean Orr, chief of the Wave Trauma Centre, backed the the idea for a special annuity for a group of between 500/600 people, whose cause has been championed by Victims Commissioner, Kathryn Stone.

The final text from the five main party negotiations chaired by Dr Richard Haass, released on New Year's Eve, formally recommended Mrs Stone look at measures to assist people unable to work for the greater part of their lives, who have now new problems in later life because they have little or no occupational pension.

"It was good to see that it found its way into the draft agreement document – a strong indication that Dr Haass and Professor Meghan O'Sullivan listened to victims. But what's happening with it?," Prof Orr asked.

Referring to reports that the talks had made more progress on the issue of the past than on flags or parades, Dr Orr commented: "Someone should explain to victims and survivors exactly what constitutes 'progress' because they have seen very few signs of it."

She also said the Haass document contained interesting ideas on getting victims closer to the truth of what happened to them, in cases where there are few prospects of a successful prosecution.

Wave warned in a report two years ago that some victims were suffering deteriorating health and increased dependency due to the combination of ageing and limitations caused by injuries, some having long-term effects on all aspects of their lives.

They included blast and gunshot damage, loss of limbs, and loss of hearing and vision. Some suffered embedded shrapnel injuries which continue to cause distress. Mrs Stone said: "We want to ensure that group of people with serious physical injuries have some dignity in their later years."

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