Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Survivors have been shunned for too long

Editor's Viewpoint

For decades they have been the invisible victims of the Troubles, the men and women grievously maimed by terrorists, but now they are making their presence felt.

Ten six foot by six foot portraits of people who lost limbs, were blinded or left paralysed, or any combination of the above, were put on display at the Royal Victoria Hospital to bring to public attention that these people are still alive and demanding to have their case heard.

As TV star Jimmy Nesbitt, patron of victims' support group WAVE, told yesterday's press conference, these victims of the Troubles have moved on in life but have no intention of moving aside - they have been shunned for too long.

Like the bereaved, they have been shamefully failed by local politicians, who are still stuck at the stage of arguing over the definition of a victim.

This inaction is even more shameful given that MLAs are being paid for failing to do their jobs, while those whose lives have been changed irrevocably through the actions of terrorists get nothing.

It would take a heart of stone not to be moved by the stories of the 10 people whose portraits were displayed.

We often refer to victims as being in the wrong place at the wrong time but, as it was pointed out, they were in their rightful places doing their rightful, everyday tasks when they came in contact with the wrong people, people with hate in their hearts and death on their minds.

The demand of those grievously injured - there are an estimated 500-plus in this category - is simple, to be given a pension, in part-compensation for the injuries they sustained, the pain and trauma they have endured for years, and to ensure that as they age and their complex needs intensify, they will have some funds to access assistance.

That demand was well articulated by a woman who was paralysed in a drive-by shooting and who detailed the multiple operations and treatments which she has undergone in the intervening years.

Her morbid fear is that in her old age she will not have the funds to ensure she can pay for care if needed.

Surely it is just sheer humanity that the demands of this relatively small number of people are met, if not by our stay-away politicians then by the Government at Westminster. They are not asking for anything they do not deserve and not only should any pension be for the rest of their lives, it should be backdated and it should be paid soon.

Belfast Telegraph

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