There is something seriously wrong when a suggested remedy on Northern Ireland’s troubled past causes those in greatest need of help to be re-traumatised and hurt.
Hundreds of good people, some grappling with daily anguish and intolerable pain, have been left financially high and dry because of an inability to sort out and or acknowledge the true meaning of the term ‘victims and survivors’.
Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW), (a registered charity with the remit of helping innocent victims of the thirty plus years terrorist campaign), believes that a person who was shot, maimed or psychologically scarred by the actions of the gunman or bomber, from whatever side, should qualify for a victim’s or survivor’s pension.
In contrast it also asserts that those who planted the bomb or pulled the trigger do not deserve to be rewarded with State funds for attempting to murder and cause mayhem – they are not victims or survivors. The very people who perpetrated countless acts of savagery deserve nothing. In fact, the bomber whose bomb prematurely detonated, causing permanent disability to himself, should not have any expectation of any State ‘reward’ whatsoever.
This is a matter of what’s right and wrong. And, simply, it’s wrong to include the terrorists in the same category as the people they set out to hurt or kill. The Ulster Human Rights Watch believes that political expediency should form no part of deciding who qualifies for a pension.
The dangers of placating and rewarding paramilitary criminals and giving them equivalence with victims and survivors is an anathema, indeed it is an appalling injustice. All it would succeed in doing would be to cause additional unnecessary suffering and make those innocents who bore the brunt of a monstrous murder campaign suffer further enormous distress and a sense of worthlessness.
There is no other civilised country in the world where terrorists are rewarded for their actions. Why should the UK, and specifically Northern Ireland, decide it can be out of step with international norms by essentially saying the terrorist gunman, wounded during an engagement with the security forces, is now on a par with the soldier or police officer left with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or a life-changing physical injury?
Lives scarred by terrorism should not have to be re-traumatised in this manner. Any objective assessment will see that turning natural justice on its head in such a hurtful and disrespectful manner is counter-productive and a denial of the truth. The recent revised advice, offered to the Secretary of State by the Victims Commissioner, lacks decency, sensitivity, empathy and respect for real victims of terrorism.
It should and must be rejected by the Government.