Government urged to clarify Troubles' pensions after backlash over terrorists
A DUP MP is to press the Government to clarify its position on Troubles' pensions after the party expressed fears that current plans would equate innocent victims and terrorists.
Emma Little-Pengelly, writing in today's Belfast Telegraph, described the recommendations revealed by the Victims' Commissioner Judith Thompson last week as a "repugnant lie of equivalence".
Ms Thompson's pension proposals - which mean that a number of terrorists can qualify for the scheme - have met with a backlash from some victims and politicians. Others, however, support the plan to help those injured during the Troubles and do not want to the see payments held up any longer.
The DUP MLA insisted innocent victims are "deeply distressed" by the development.
"While terrorists were handed an effective amnesty through the early release of prisoners, the ball was well and truly dropped by those who did not sufficiently define a victim in the Belfast Agreement," she said.
"For our part we will continue to urge the Government to stand up for all genuine victims by putting right this horrible wrong."
Ms Little-Pengelly's latest bid comes as she welcomed Lord Duncan's pledge this week that any eligibility criteria would abide with the "through no fault of their own principle".
Yesterday, Jackie Nicholl, whose son Colin, aged 17 months, was decapitated by an IRA bomb outside a furniture showroom in Belfast in 1971, expressed relief at the Tory peer's comments.
"People who had been involved in perpetrating violence should not be entitled to government pensions. It's as simple as that," he told the Sunday World.
Victims' campaigner Paul Gallagher, who was left a wheelchair user following a loyalist gun attack, says in a Belfast Telegraph interview today that he isn't opposed to perpetrators receiving pensions. But he also acknowledged the hurt and anger felt by those who do object.
"As far as I am concerned there is a definition of 'victim' there and for me it is enough," he added.