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£12,000 for victims was a mistake, says Eames

The proposer of controversial payments for victims of terrorism has said it might have been a mistake to put a value on lives lost.

Lord Robin Eames added the £12,000 recognition sum was based on an equivalent grant which had already been paid out by the Irish government, but admitted matters could have been handled differently.

Northern Ireland Secretary Shaun Woodward ruled out compensation earlier this year after it prompted a fierce backlash from unionists and some victims’ groups because it would include republican and loyalist paramilitaries.

Lord Eames said: “We knew that after a very heated period of debate this recommendation might overshadow all the other proposals and be very hurtful within the victim family for those who felt that there was an equivalence being advanced between perpetrator and victim.

“With the benefit of hindsight we might have chosen a different way or different words, we might not even have mentioned a figure,” he added.

The report was published in January by the Consultative Group on the Past, an independent group chaired by former Church of Ireland primate Lord Eames and ex-Catholic priest Denis Bradley.

It was established to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

The proposals included a legacy commission which would be led by an international figure.

Lord Eames was writing in the newsletter of lobby group the Committee on the Administration of Justice (CAJ).

He added: “We followed the current law, the Victims and Survivors' Order 2006.

“This makes no attempt to draw any distinction in victimhood, it applies across the board irrespective of who the victim was.

“So when we adhered to the frequent request to give recognition to victims, that recognition could not propose a hierarchy of victims.”

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) has begun consulting on the report.

Belfast Telegraph