Solidarity of Northern Ireland victims shames our politicians, says widower
Northern Ireland's politicians have been urged to take note of the togetherness that victims have shown.
The call comes ahead of a gala evening in Belfast tonight organised by the Wave Trauma Centre, a support group for people bereaved, injured or affected by the Troubles.
The event at City Hall will be attended by people involved with Wave over the last 27 years.
"These people are the true giants of the peace process," victims' campaigner Alan McBride said.
Mr McBride lost his wife Sharon in the Shankill bomb in 1993 and now works with Wave.
He wants Stormont to sit up and take note of the progress made by victims.
"These are the people who lost the most and who have now given up the most to make Northern Ireland a better place for everyone," he added.
"We need Stormont to offer more and not forget about the quiet ones in the background who have helped keep families together in traumatic times and have got on with their lives."
Wave was set up in 1991 as a grassroots, cross-community, voluntary organisation to support people bereaved of a spouse through violence It was expanded later to include those injured or traumatised through the Troubles.
The gala night will bring together people from all walks of life who have been affected in some way by the Troubles.
"This is a night of celebration of how far we, and so many people who have suffered, have come," Mr McBride said.
"It's a celebration of the achievement of each individual and each family who have been at the heart of the suffering in our country and who have now started to emerge out of the other side."
Comedian Tim McGarry will be hosting the evening, with support from Lord Mayor Nuala McAllister and Wave patron and artist Colin Davidson.
The night will feature a photographic exhibition - A Day In The Life - a series of 20 images featuring a person injured in the Troubles. Brendan J Byrne's film Hear My Voice will also be shown.
"We originally wanted to put together a big night of celebration to celebrate 25 years of Wave in 2016 but wanted to hold it at City Hall," said Mr McBride.
"It wasn't available at that time so the plans were put on hold until now.
"We're delighted to have secured the venue this time and it should be a super night for so many people who have been involved with the group over the years, who have suffered life changing bereavements and injuries, to come together with their shared experience and look to the future in a positive and uplifting way."
Another victim involved with Wave is Shauna Moreland, who was just 10 when her mother was abducted from west Belfast and killed by the IRA in Roslea, Co Fermanagh, in 1994.
Now, more than 20 years later, she has found inspiration and help in dealing with the years of torment through the charity.
"My initial contact with Wave came through their CEO Sandra Peake a few years ago," she said.
"I had just been featured on BBC's Spotlight programme concerning the death of my mother and she invited me along for a chat.
"At that time I thought it couldn't do much harm, but quickly realised chatting to someone about everything that has gone on over 30 years was exactly what I needed."
She added: "Once I became involved with Wave I found I wasn't alone any more.
"I had started to feel isolated but found there were so many other people who shared similar feelings, had suffered similar hurt and were going through the process of bringing those feelings out and starting to try to move on."
Mr McGarry, who hosts tonight's event, said the work of Wave Trauma Centre was close to his heart.
"Victims need their rights respected, their issues heard and they, and the people at Wave, deserve all our support for the brilliant work they are doing together, most of which goes unnoticed," he said.