Belfast Telegraph

Insurance cover alert for former political prisoners

By Brian Rowan

A project representing thousands of former IRA prisoners has urged them to contact their insurance companies to check that they have proper cover.

Michael Culbert, of Coiste na nlarchimi, said this relates to both car and home policies, saying the issue shows “political ex-prisoners aren’t regarded as full citizens here in this State”.

He said: “Our problem is that anybody with an unspent conviction will not be insured by some insurance companies.

“Some insurance companies state now that the policy holder must pro-actively advise them if they have ‘unspent’ convictions.

“This relates to anyone who was sentenced to over two-and-a-half years,” he continued.

“Up to very recently this issue has applied only to home insurance, and it is only in recent months that this has popped its head up to do with car insurance.”

The republican ex-prisoner community alone is estimated at approximately 25,000, and Mr Culbert fears that “many may have overlooked these new regulations or have sidestepped them in order to try and protect their families”.

“There is no need to panic,” Mr Culbert, a former life sentence prisoner continued.

“Coiste has made arrangements with several major companies to insure political former prisoners as long as those companies are made aware of the imprisonment.”

William ‘Plum’ Smith, the former chairman of the Progressive Unionist Party, who was part of the negotiations leading to the political agreement of 1998, argued for records to be “parked” or put into “cold storage”.

“That means if someone goes for a job they don’t have to declare it so long as the conviction was conflict-related,” he said.

“This parks the conviction allowing people to get on with their lives. If they re-offend, the record can be brought back into play.”

Belfast Telegraph

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