Campaigners call for action over ‘poor’ provision for Troubles victims
Severely injured Troubles victims have demanded action over alleged poor wheelchair and prosthetic limb provision.
Wheelchair and prosthetic limb provision is worse in Northern Ireland than other parts of the UK, according to Troubles victims.
The warning comes as some of those most seriously hurt in atrocities during the 30-year conflict demand action.
Paul Gallagher, who has been confined to a wheelchair since being shot in 1994, said: “It’s shocking that people whose lives are permanently and catastrophically damaged by the conflict still have to lobby and plead with the authorities at local and national level to give us just enough to allow us to lead lives as independently as possible for as long as possible.
“In terms of the needs of wheelchair users like me or amputees who use prosthetic limbs, it is clear that the level of provision in Northern Ireland is lower than elsewhere in the UK and that is not good enough.”
Mr Gallagher is among a number of victims travelling to Westminster to press MPs and peers to make the case for a special pension for the severely injured.
Many victims have had to survive on benefits because they were unable to build up occupational pensions as a result of their injuries.
Mr Gallagher added: “The Government’s refusal to treat the severely injured as part of the legacy of the conflict is part of the same kind of mindset.
“The Secretary of State can talk about the Government’s responsibilities to ‘provide better outcomes for victims and survivors, the people who suffered most during the Troubles’, but then in effect say that those responsibilities do not extend to men and women who lost eyes, arms and legs during the Troubles.
“We are treated as an embarrassing inconvenience because we have lived longer than expected.
“One of the reasons why we’ve lived far longer than predicted is because of the support of our families and a stubborn determination to make our lives work as best we can in circumstances that we would not wish on anyone.
“We bring the same stubborn determination to campaigning for what we need that so far is being denied to us.”
Meanwhile, the group, which is being supported by the Wave organisation, will also visit the spinal rehabilitation unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire and meet representatives from Limbcare and the Limbless Association.