Belfast Telegraph

Terrorists must not be treated as victims, insists Jeffrey Donaldson

BY SORAYA KISHTWARI

The law must be changed so that IRA terrorists are not granted the same status as victims, Jeffrey Donaldson has said.

The DUP MP for Lagan Valley said it was outrageous and "an affront to decency" that the law defines IRA bombers in the same way it defines their victims.

Mr Donaldson told the Commons: "The DUP remains firmly of the view that you cannot equate the perpetrators of terrorist violence with their innocent victims.

"Yet that is precisely what the current law does in Northern Ireland under the Victims and Survivors Order. This a law that the DUP is seeking to change and it is for that reason that I have introduced a Private Member's Bill to change the law and that is due for second reading in December.

"My Bill would ensure that an individual killed or injured as a result of their own act of terrorism or convicted of a terrorist-related offence as defined in law would not be classified as a victim for the purposes of deriving any benefit from schemes to assist victims."

Mr Donaldson, who was speaking yesterday during an opposition day debate on dealing with the past in Northern Ireland, gave the example of the Shankill blast.

Although one of the bombers died in the explosion, his accomplice Sean Kelly survived, and although jailed for his role, was freed after seven years in prison.

"This is an enormous burden for the families of those victims to bear," he said, adding that the injustice was "compounded by the fact that the law presently defines the IRA bombers Sean Kelly and Thomas Begley as victims, in just the same way as the nine innocent people who died that day on the Shankill Road are defined as victims".

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