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Slap in face for Troubles victims awaiting answers

By Noel McAdam

More victims are likely to die before political progress is made on dealing with the legacy of the Troubles, it has been warned.

Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson said victims and survivors faced a "bitter pill" after the failure of Stormont talks to agree a way forward.

She told the Belfast Telegraph: "Many people have already passed away waiting on progress, and it is unthinkable that those who remain should have to wait yet again.

"It is entirely possible that others will pass away before we see meaningful progress." Mrs Thompson has asked for urgent meetings with Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, the First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness to discuss the impasse.

And she agreed the prospects for victims were now worse than in the Stormont House Agreement last December.

"Without a firm timetable for the implementation of the measures promised, they are worse off - they have been let down and disappointed," she said. Mrs Thompson also urged the DUP leader and senior Sinn Fein figure and other parties to meet victims' groups to explain why the protracted negotiations had "failed to deliver."

There was anger and disgust among victims' groups after it emerged new bodies envisaged in the Stormont House Agreement, including the Historical Inquiries Unit, were stuck in indefinite limbo.

Sinn Fein and the Government failed to reach an accommodation on the vexed issue, which has been without a resolution since the Eames/Bradley report over six years ago.

The central sticking point was the clash between the needs of families for disclosure of how loved ones died and over-riding needs of national security.

The commissioner said: "The much campaigned-for pension for the most severely injured is one of a number of critically important steps that need to be taken now to meet the needs and expectations of those who have suffered most."

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