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Call for new members on forum for Troubles victims in Northern Ireland

By Noel McAdam

The Victims Commissioner has called for new members for the Victims Forum as politicians prepare to confront the past.

Judith Thompson said she hoped the move would help the organisation represent a larger range of people.

"Future planning for the victims and survivors of the conflict is essential as the aim of the forum is to help build a shared and better future," she added.

"This means an ongoing assessment of the needs of victims and survivors is crucial.

"Practically, funding arrangements and the provision of services which accompany these issues also need to be tackled and solutions found."

The forum is seeking individuals interested in sharing their experiences with other victims or survivors "to help inform the commissioner in the delivery of advice to government". Expressions of interest are sought by Wednesday, May 4 at 4pm.

The panel will be appointed for the period June 2016 through to September 2019, coinciding with the Victim Commissioner's term of office.

A plan on how to help victims of the Troubles was left out of the Fresh Start agreement between the DUP and Sinn Fein but is expected to be a priority for the next Executive.

The current forum, which includes members linked to the RUC and UDR, as well as civilian victims of IRA and loyalist paramilitary attacks, said it had "lost all trust and confidence in local politicians" following the deal last November.

Mrs Thompson previously predicted an agreement on the past was "very much on the cards" but also warned negotiations after the May 5 Assembly election could be the last chance for agreement.

Addressing a two-day conference attended by victims' groups and policymakers, Mrs Thompson said Fresh Start had been a "crushing disappointment".

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