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Sinn Fein to veto victims definition bill

Sinn Fein will try to veto any attempt to prevent dead IRA men from being defined as victims, it warned today.

The party accused the DUP of abandoning inclusivity and championing a hierarchy of victims after it announced plans to change the legal definition.

The DUP wants to ensure people like Shankill fish shop bomber Thomas Begley, who died in the blast, can't be placed on the same level as the innocent.

Sinn Fein victims' spokesman Francie Molloy said: "The DUP need to get real about the victims issue. For too long they have sought to play politics with it and attempt to elevate one victim over another.

"That approach has failed and Sinn Fein will robustly block any attempt to go back down that road."

A proposal from the Eames/Bradley Consultative Group on the Past for a £12,000 payment for relatives of all killed in the conflict met a furious reaction from unionists because it could include former paramilitaries.

The DUP's objections to victims of state violence benefiting from victims legislation apply to scenarios like in Loughgall where IRA men attacking a police station were killed by the SAS.

The ministerial Executive has created a Victims' Commission to help those bereaved in three decades of violence.

Mr Molloy said: "The current definition came about after years of campaigning by victims' organisations with the support of Sinn Fein. In response to any Bill the DUP bring to the Assembly on this issue, Sinn Fein will bring forward a petition of concern (which requires that subsequent legislation command significant support from both sides of the community).

"Given the universal view on this issue amongst those groups representing victims of British state violence I would fully expect the SDLP to join with us in this blocking these offensive and unnecessary DUP moves and I will be meeting with them to discuss this issue."

DUP European candidate Diane Dodds earlier said the DUP was drafting a changed bill.

"I hope that our legislation will attract cross-party support at Stormont," she said.

"Murderers like Thomas Begley, the Shankill bomber, cannot be put on the same level as the innocent people he cut down in cold blood."

Belfast Telegraph