Pension call for Troubles victims

Pension call for Troubles victims

Victims' Commissioner Kathryn Stone has said a pension for those severely injured during the Troubles should be implemented as part of a strategy for dealing with the past.

The Commission for Victims and Survivors has published its advice paper, which has been given to the First and deputy First Ministers.The paper, which has been with Ministers since 28 March, contains four key recommendations which are the result of almost two years consultation with victims and survivors groups and individuals, including advice from the Victims Forum working group and a major conference held in February with the largest ever representation of victims.Commenting on the paper the Commissioner, Ms Stone OBE, said that the recommendations represent the Commission's considered professional advice based on delivering real and lasting benefits to victims and survivors who want acknowledgement, truth, justice and reparations.As well as the special pension, other recommendations include an Acknowledgement Unit, an independent commission for information retrieval and the establishment of an overarching Historical Investigations Unit.I believe there is the political will to meet the needs of victims and survivors, that needs to be translated into action and that action must be now.Victims' CommissionerWhen asked about who would be eligible for receiving the pension, the Commissioner said it was about "acknowledging the needs" of those hurt in the conflict."We've been talking to WAVE, which is a very large, cross-community organisation, providing support to victims and survivors," she said."They have a group of people who are self-described as seriously injured and those people have been paralysed, they have lost limbs, their sight, we're talking about very serious injuries here."We're about to finish this proposal on the pension and submit it to the First Minister and deputy First Minister and one of the things that they could decide to do, is to adopt those measures in the Criminal Injuries Compensation legislation, which say that if you are injured at your own hand, or if you have been found guilty of any criminal offence, you are not entitled to that compensation."The Victims' Commissioner said ongoing dialogue should not happen "at the expense of delaying a pension for the seriously injured, real and meaningful apologies and the opportunity for truth and justice".Reacting on Thursday, First Minister Peter Robinson told UTV that he would not support any pension for perpetrators."Let's be very clear, I am not in the business of providing any reward to those who have been involved in terrorism, so these are issues that we have to go into in great detail," he said."I listened to the Victims' commissioner this morning and it is fairly clear that while there are ideas in the report, some of them have not been thought out in detail."Indeed the number of conditions and caveats that were announced by the Victims' commissioner, which are not contained in the report, would indicate that there is an awful lot of work to do."Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he and Sinn Féin were in support of the pension proposal."I think it is hugely important whenever victims come up with very sensible proposals like that which make a practical difference to people," he commented.He said if parties could not agree on the proposals for dealing with the past, he saw a "compelling case" for assistance from outside and possibly calling upon US diplomat Dr Richard Haass.


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