Belfast Telegraph

Victims of violence search on for justice

Editor's Viewpoint

The Christmas period is a time for families to be together, but there are too many people in Northern Ireland who find this season particularly difficult.

These are the families of the victims of violence for whom the memories are still painful, and they have to deal with the continuing grief as best they can.

Today we carry a story of courageous Joanne McGibbon whose husband Michael was brutally gunned down by dissident republicans last April, and bled to death in her arms in an alleyway near their home in Ardoyne.

This Christmas, Joanne delighted and surprised her four children with news of a dream family trip to Florida as a well-deserved break from the trauma of the past year.

They set off for Florida today and we wish them well. However, our thoughts also turn to the many other victims of violence from all sides of the community.

The failure of the Stormont politicians to deal properly with concerns raised by these people is a running sore, so long after the hopeful developments arising from the Belfast Agreement.

For years there have been promises that something will be done to achieve justice for the victims, and to help them draw a line under the past.

Sadly, however, this issue drags on, and so far there are no convincing signs that this will be dealt with satisfactorily, despite all the talk and the initiatives of recent years.

This is bad enough for the more recent victims of violence and their families, but there seems little hope of settlement for the older victims, many of whom have been dying off while still seeking justice.

For a long time this newspaper has campaigned on behalf of this group within our community.

Surely it is within the capabilities of Stormont and their associated agencies to deal with this troublesome issue so that it can be settled once and for all?

As we move through the Christmas period and begin to look towards the New Year, we will be making happy memories for our families.

However, this is also the proper time to turn our thoughts to those for whom this part of the year is always particularly painful.

Is it too much to hope that by this time next year, a framework will be set in place so victims can at last achieve justice and peace of mind?

It is the very least that they deserve.

Belfast Telegraph

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