Belfast Telegraph

Petition by Shankill bomb victims' daughter to block terrorist pensions nears target

Petition: Michelle Williamson
Petition: Michelle Williamson

A petition started by a woman whose parents were killed in the Shankill bombing urging the Government not to pay pensions to injured terrorists has received almost 5,000 signatures.

Michelle Williamson (52) was orphaned after her dad George and mum Gillian were caught up in the deadly IRA blast in Frizzell's fish shop in Belfast on October 23, 1993.

Last week it was confirmed by the Victims' Commissioner Judith Thompson that a small number of those injured while carrying out attacks will be eligible for the pension payments.

The recommendation has prompted a blacklash from some victims and politicians, with several victims' groups calling for Ms Thompson's resignation.

Others, however, support the plans and do not want to see the payments delayed any longer.

Ms Williamson said pensions should be for victims and not for perpetrators and branded the proposals a "farce".

"A pension for the injured victims of the troubles in Northern Ireland has been long overdue, however our victims' minister has proposed a pension that includes payments to the killers as victims, this is just wrong," she wrote in an online post.

"Would America pay a pension to Bin Laden's family or perhaps the family of Timothy McVeigh? Yet this is exactly what (Judith Thompson) is proposing."

Osama bin Laden masterminded the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York, while Timothy McVeigh carried out the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

The target number of signatures for Ms Williamson's petition is 5,000. As of Monday afternoon, more than 4,800 people had signed.

It is due to be delivered to Prime Minister Theresa May upon reaching its target.

Judith Thompson recommended the pension be paid according to severity of a person's injuries, backdated to the December 2014 Stormont House Agreement.

Speaking last week, Judith Thompson denied the proposals would equate victims and terrorists.

"I am acutely aware of the perception that this scheme is somehow drawing moral equivalence between victims and perpetrators. That is not the case," she said.

"Neither my recommendations nor the 2006 Order make any reference to moral equivalence; it is a legal definition and the parameters in which I must work."

It is understood the number of perpetrators who would be eligible for the payment is fewer than 10.

DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly has said clarity is needed on the issue of terrorists receiving pensions and the Government must intervene and "do what is right".

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