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UDR widows deserve husbands' pensions

Editor's Viewpoint

Published 16/06/2016

Northern Ireland MPs with UDR widows outside the Houses of Parliament
Northern Ireland MPs with UDR widows outside the Houses of Parliament

There can be no denying that UDR widows who have remarried have been given a raw deal. Their pensions were cut off when they wed again in what is clearly an injustice to women who have already suffered grievously.

These are people who were bereaved when their husbands were killed by terrorists during the Troubles. Those men donned a uniform to fight the scourge of violence and gave their lives for their country.

One wonders if they would have joined up had they known how their wives would be treated after their deaths?

The women were entitled to the pensions when their husbands were killed, and how they live the rest of their lives should be no concern of the Ministry of Defence or the Government. Why should remarrying invalidate their claim to continue to receiving the pension?

The same injustice also applies to around 250 regular Army widows in the UK, and both groups joined forces yesterday to bring their campaign to the House of Commons.

The situation is all the more iniquitous because the widows of RUC officers and prison officers in Northern Ireland can continue to receive their pensions even if they remarry. Both groups had previously seen their pensions stopped, but the RUC widows had their rights restored in 2015 and prisoner officers' widows in April this year.

What is the difference between UDR widows and RUC or prison officer widows? The only difference is the colour of the uniforms their husbands wore, and that is no reason for them to be treated unfairly.

They saw their husbands take huge risks in joining the UDR and ultimately giving their lives for their country. Surely the country should then treat these widows with the respect they deserve?

Sometimes, it seems that those who suffered most during the Troubles are the same people slighted at each and every turn.

This newspaper has consistently urged the politicians to grasp the nettle of legacy issues. However, in spite of many fine words and countless meetings with groups of victims from all sections of the community, little has been done, while the bereaved continue to grieve and to feel aggrieved.

They should be treated with respect. Their suffering should be forefront of the minds of those seeking a solution to legacy issues. Failure to deal with these issues is a festering sore in the peace process that will not disappear.

Belfast Telegraph

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