Belfast Telegraph

Terrorists who set out to murder and maim deserving of nothing

By Emma Little-Pengelly

An appalling moral corruption sits right at the heart of victims-related issues here - the nasty, repugnant lie that equates the victim-makers with their innocent victims.

This issue emerged again this week in relation to progress on the much-needed special pension for those severely injured during the Troubles.

This continues to cause considerable distress to many innocent victims. This is wrong and must be addressed.

I have raised this issue many times in the House of Commons, including this week, and I have been rebuffed with cries from the Labour front bench, and from others, that there should be no hierarchy of victims.

Yet, what we are calling for here is nothing to do with creating a hierarchy of victims, for those terrorists who set out to murder and maim others, and who were injured or killed in doing so, are not victims.

It is that simple.

The test of the Northern Ireland peace process should always have been how we treat and deal with the many victims.

Yet, 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.

As all will know, I did not support the Belfast Agreement, a document that left us with the legacy of having to try and renegotiate the definition with Sinn Fein while terrorists walked free.

This has proved to be impossible.

This is why the UK Government must step in and do what is right.

I worked with my party to bring forward a Private Member's Bill in the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Despite wide consultation by Rt Hon Sir Jeffrey Donaldson and myself, clearly showing the desire for redefinition, this Bill was killed off by the SDLP and Alliance joining with Sinn Fein in the Assembly.

I brought forward a Private Member's Bill in the House of Commons; disappointingly the UK Government did not support it nor make time for the Bill to proceed.

Incredibly, the Commissioner for Victims and Survivors did not take the opportunity to recommend exclusion of terrorists in her report this week.

The repugnant lie of equivalence has continued to spread, just like the rotten apple. It is time to end this madness.

There is now an opportunity for the UK Government to stand up for victims.

The DUP has been working closely with the Government, making the case for change.

Progress is being made, as indicated by welcome remarks from Lord Duncan this week in the House of Lords.

I raised this issue again in the Commons on Thursday, and in response the Speaker indicated that time will be made next week to get clarity from the UK Government on this issue.

I will therefore be seeking an urgent question on Monday, a formal parliamentary process to bring a minister of the Government to the House of Commons to answer and clarify.

It's important clarity is given to this issue.

For our part, we will continue to urge the UK Government to stand up for all genuine victims by putting right this horrible wrong.

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