Belfast Telegraph

Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson: It's now time for survivors to get support

Judith Thompson
Judith Thompson

By Judith Thompson

My advice on a Victims and Survivors Pension Arrangement is in support of those who have been left with life-long, severe physical and psychological injury.

People like Jennifer McNern, who went for a coffee as a 21-year-old and lost not only her legs in a no-warning bomb, but her ability to secure an independent future.

Alex Bunting, who lost not only his limb in a car bomb, but his ability to provide for himself and his family. These are some survivors of the conflict: they survive on benefits. They survive the anxiety of their later years being lived in poverty.

They survive year after year of pursuing a pension arrangement that would alleviate some of the difficulties in their lives and have met barrier after barrier with generosity and grace.

Their capacity to earn a living was taken from them, and with it their dignity. For their families, as for them, life on that day was changed for ever.

I am acutely aware of the perception that this scheme is somehow drawing moral equivalence between victims and perpetrators. That is not the case.

Neither my recommendations nor the 2006 Order make any reference to moral equivalence; it is a legal definition and the parameters in which I must work.

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Whilst I appreciate that for many families that definition is difficult to accept, it is equally difficult to allow that to be a barrier that denies survivors like Jennifer and Alex much needed support when they have already suffered for so long.

Belfast Telegraph


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