Ulster Human Rights Watch, which campaigns for the innocent victims of terrorism, has welcomed new legislation establishing a long-overdue victims payments scheme.

The Lurgan-based Advocacy Service says it is particularly pleased with the exclusion from the scheme of terrorists who perpetrated monstrous acts of barbarity.

Ulster Human Rights Watch Advocacy Manager, Axel Schmidt, said: “This scheme is meant to deliver practical financial relief for innocent victims of the Troubles who have been physically or psychologically injured.

“Some of these people sustained appalling physical and psychological injuries in deplorable terrorist attacks. They deserve to be treated with respect and kindness.

“Victims of terrorism will have to apply and those who qualify may receive annual payments ranging from £2,000 to £10,000. Ulster Human Rights Watch is now urging victims to get in touch with the Advocacy Service so that they get all the help they need to prepare their application for payments. We can be contacted on 028 3834 4500 or by email to: info@uhrw.org.uk.

“It is clear that the Government heeded the voice of victims of terrorism in drawing up this scheme since it would have been a monstrous piece of legislation if bombers or gunmen had been included. This would only have served to re-traumatise the real victims of these cowardly acts of terrorism.

“We particularly welcome the decision by the Government to increase the number of injured people who will qualify in order to benefit spouses and carers who look after seriously injured individuals. However, the scope of the exclusion of perpetrators on the grounds of a relevant conviction or exceptional circumstances, which makes entitlement to victims’ payments inappropriate, remains unclear. Ulster Human Rights Watch will continue to pressurise the Government for clarity of this aspect of the scheme.

“For this reason we have to take at face value the assurance that only innocent victims will benefit. Ulster Human Rights Watch will be carefully monitoring the operation of the scheme to ensure that this commitment is fulfilled.”

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