Belfast Telegraph

Victims' groups call for Commissioner's resignation over Troubles pension plans

Judith Thompson
Judith Thompson

Several groups representing victims' of the Troubles have called on the Commissioner to resign over her pension proposals for those injured during the conflict.

Last week, Judith Thompson proposed those injured should be compensated according to the severity of their injuries, backdated to the December 2014 Stormont House Agreement.

Her plans, however, have been criticised by many victims and politicians as they could see some terrorists also receive payments.

In a statement released to the Newsletter, a total of 14 groups representing victims urged Ms Thompson to resign, stating she no longer has the "confidence nor trust" of many of those she is supposed to represent.

"We no longer have confidence or trust in her office nor the way in which she administers the role of chief advocate for victims and survivors," the statement reads.

"The advice paper presented to the NIO and secretary of state last week concerning a special pension for injured victims (VASPA) was neither consulted on nor agreed by the sector her office supposedly represents.

"The refusal of the commissioner to reflect the majority position of victims/survivors (which we submit is the position held by the majority of the NI population) – namely that those who injured themselves by their own hand or who hold serious criminal convictions as a result of a Troubles related offence(s) should not benefit - has re-traumatised very many innocent victims and survivors.

"Beyond this resignation we implore the UK government to immediately bring forward plans to introduce a UK-wide definition of victim/survivor of terrorism which would encompass the Northern Ireland Troubles alongside other acts and campaigns of terrorism, i.e Al-Qaeda or IS inspired.

"Only when this happens will we have the means to transform this society."

The statement is signed by victims' groups from across Northern Ireland and the Republic, including the Wounded Police Officers and Families Association, the South East Fermanagh Foundation (SEFF) and the Independent Victims and Survivors Coalition.

Speaking last week, Judith Thompson denied her 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."

Writing in Monday's Belfast Telegraph, DUP MP Emma Little-Pengelly urged the Government to clarify its position on Troubles' pensions.

"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," she said.

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

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