Belfast Telegraph

Heating oil will help survivors

By Kenny Donaldson

In recent days, more than 80 victims and survivors have come together under the auspices of Innocent Victims United to discuss the proposed pension for the seriously injured.

Three people seriously injured by the bombs and bullets of republican and loyalist terrorism shared their testimonies and experiences of the emotional, physical and financial hardship they suffered.

One point raised by all three speakers, and also by victims and survivors from the floor within the question-and-answer session, was the issue of heating oil and its necessity for so many in quelling the chronic pain they endure.

Those of us who have not sustained such injuries have little comprehension of what impact a few temperature degrees less can have upon a seriously injured person (particularly over the winter).

The current schemes operated via the Victims and Survivors Service do not reach all those who have been seriously injured.

Because Disability Allowance (high and medium-rate care) is used as the qualifying criteria, a number of seriously injured people receive no additional support for a serious health condition caused by the evils of terrorism. A change in policy must happen.

Terrorist organisations took the decision to go out and murder and maim and also destroy commerce. In so doing, they inflicted serious disablements to members of this community.

Now, through their political voices, they are seeking to prevent the innocent from receiving "lifeline financial support and stability", because they continue to cling to a selfish ideology rooted in the philosophy "ourselves alone".

These terrorists and their political voices are denying innocent victims access to a basic requirement - oil. Yet the cruel irony is this: these same terrorist organisations have amassed criminal empires through that very same product - oil.

Politically, the contentious issue of terrorists receiving the pension needs to be taken off the table, either through politicians having the courage to rule it out outright, or through the development of an appeals mechanism not dissimilar to what was done around the Spad Bill, for which those who hold a conviction for crimes perpetrated would be required to go through.

Kenny Donaldson is a spokesman for Innocent Victims United

Belfast Telegraph


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