Troubles pension should apply to us, says Omagh victim
A woman who suffered life-changing injuries in the Omagh bomb has backed calls for victims of the attack to receive a new Troubles pension.
Donna Marie McGillion hit out after a government document suggested the Omagh victims might not be eligible.
A consultation published by the Northern Ireland Office suggests restricting the scope for claims from 1966 to the signing of the Good Friday Agreement in April 1998.
The Omagh bombing, which killed 29 people, including a woman pregnant with unborn twins, was four months later.
Mrs McGillion said Secretary of State Julian Smith should come to Omagh to see the continuing devastation.
She said: “I am actually so offended that anyone would attempt to exclude the bereaved families and survivors of the Omagh bomb from receiving a Troubles pension.”
Mrs McGillion was just 21 when the bomb exploded, leaving her with extensive burns which she is still being treated for. She said a cut off date that excludes victims of Omagh is wrong. “I haven’t been able to work since I was injured and I am still receiving treatment. In fact I have yet another operation to undergo soon and I am not the only one affected by any means,” she added.
“He (the Secretary of State) should come to Omagh, visit the memorial garden and read the names of those who died and meet their families and spend time with those of us who survived.”
Mrs McGillion’s sentiments were shared by Kevin Skelton, who chairs a victims’ support group.
His wife Philomena was among the dead.
Mr Skelton said he has written to the Secretary of State and the Victims’ Commissioner demanding to know why victims of Omagh and others are not being considered for the pension.
He said: “The bomb in Omagh is abhorred by everyone because it took victims from across all sections of society — Catholic, Protestant, young, old, men, women, born and unborn.”
UUP MLA Doug Beattie said: “We will respond to the consultation by saying the date should be changed to ensure those seriously injured in terrorist attacks after the date of the Belfast Agreement — including the Omagh atrocity — are included.”
The NIO said: “The government is very sensitive to the fact that terrible atrocities including the Omagh bomb took place outside what is commonly considered to be the Troubles period. That is why we are consulting on this issue and want to hear and consider all views.
“We have included a specific question within the consultation on date parameters of the scheme and there is no predetermined timescale for the scheme.
“Any decisions about timescale will be taken after the consultation has been completed and the responses analysed.”