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Quarter of Northern Ireland people still traumatised by Troubles, says report


Questions: Kenny Donaldson

Questions: Kenny Donaldson

Questions: Kenny Donaldson

One in four people is still badly affected by the impact of the Troubles, 20 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, new research indicates.

A survey conducted for the Commission for Victims and Survivors found that 26% of people here said that they or a family member continued to be affected by a conflict-related incident - that equates to around 380,000 people.

Victims' Commissioner Judith Thompson described the legacy of the past as the "last piece of the jigsaw".

The NI Statistics and Research Agency carried out interviews with 2,200 randomly selected households, speaking to people aged over 16.

Fifty-eight percent stated that it was "important" or "very important" to deal with the past.

Nearly three-quarters also said they would support pensions for those e severely injured during the conflict.

A separate study suggested that if the Troubles had continued after 1998, another 2,400 people might have been killed by now.

The research by The Detail website indicated that this would have been broken down to around 1,350 civilians, 680 security forces and 360 paramilitaries.

The commission's victims' forum has been in the headlines recently after one member resigned in protest when he learned of a fellow member's IRA past.

Jackie Nicholl's baby son Colin was killed by an IRA bomb attack on a furniture shop in 1971.

He stepped down when he learned that forum member Robert McClenaghan was a convicted Provo bomber.

Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United said he was uneasy about being associated with the 380,000 victims of the NISRA survey, as he defined victims in a different way from the commission.

"Undoubtedly there continues to exist a brutal, and indeed debilitating, legacy from 40-plus years of terrorism and criminal violence," he said. "We are very nervous to be associated with the 380,000 because there is a limited value context for how such a figure is calculated.

"We subscribe to the principle of individual victimhood brought about through the criminal actions of others; we do not subscribe to the Establishment-led narrative of communal victimhood.

"We also question the usefulness of quoting a statistic that 73% of the sample (deemed to be indicative of the population) support a pension for the seriously injured. There needed to be follow up questions concerning the basis for that support.

"Can the 73% figure be understood as support for ex-terrorists to also receive the special pension like the innocent, or was it support with the understanding that only the innocent (understood as victims in every other society apart from this place) would be the sole beneficiaries?"

Ms Thompson said that addressing legacy issues was key to moving society forward.

"Whilst we have come a long way, as we mark the 20 years of the Agreement, it is incumbent on us all to finish the job and address the legacy of the conflict, not just for those victims and survivors who suffered and lost the most, but because as a society we recognise what must be done to move on together," Ms Thompson added.

Belfast Telegraph