Belfast Telegraph

Single victims' commissioner sought

A single victims' commissioner is set to take over the duties of the three current holders of the position.

The Executive has advertised in local newspapers for applications for the advocacy role for people bereaved or injured in the Troubles.

The decision to reduce the number of commissioners comes as a new Victims Service gets up and running.

It is understood the Government considers that the three current commissioners, who get paid £65,000 a year, have accomplished so much in establishing initial contact with victims that their workload could now be undertaken by one individual.

However, ministers are understood to be open to hiring two commissioners if two outstanding candidates emerge.

The current incumbents - RUC widow Bertha McDougall, Patricia MacBride, whose IRA brother was killed by the SAS, and Brendan McAllister, formerly of Mediation NI - end their terms in post in May.

There had been four commissioners but Mike Nesbitt resigned to pursue a career in politics with the Ulster Unionist party.

The three outgoing commissioners will be free to apply for the new position.

The newspaper advert calls for applications to the post of commissioner/commissioners.

A senior Stormont source said that while there was the potential for appointing two commissioners, the preference was for one. "The intention is to appoint a single commissioner," said the source. "But we are trying to retain some degree of flexibility."

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