Newsletter Campaign 9: ‘Don’t rip up Victims’ Payment guidelines’

Our principles and moral compass are firmly fixed. We don’t seek to engage or involve ourselves in politics. All we seek is what is right for innocent victims of terrorism.

There is never a time when doing what is right can be watered down to accepting what is wrong. Going against our principles or breaking our moral compass is not something that is negotiable.

And here’s our dilemma. At Stormont, there is a push to try to redefine a victim in order to qualify for the Victims’ Payment Scheme that was approved in Westminster legislation. To the great annoyance, frustration and disgust of innocent victims, the disagreement around the Executive table is mean-spirited and vindictive.

Let us be clear. A gunman who committed murder is a perpetrator and deserves nothing under this scheme. A bomber who killed children and maimed passers-by in a street must be excluded. If a terrorist served more than 30 months in jail, they are disqualified.

If, for example, a partner, son or daughter of a convicted terrorist is injured in a terrorist act by ‘the other side’, then they should receive their financial entitlement and be treated no differently.

In all of this, we are guided by decency and what is right. The Secretary of State’s guidance makes it clear who should and shouldn’t qualify. To rip this up at this stage and begin a renegotiation would add insult to injury.

Writing in the ‘News Letter’ yesterday, Simon Hoare MP, Chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, put it in succinct terms when he said ‘I expect (as do the cross party members of the House of Commons NI Select Committee) all parties to do all in their power to do right by victims immediately.’

From that comment, I think it fair to say that Westminster is aghast at the antics in our Executive. And who could blame MPs for feeling frustration and disbelief?

This brings it right back to doing what’s right. If one political party is holding up payments to innocent people because it wants to re-define victimhood, then we are hopelessly deadlocked. There is little or no likelihood of a successful resolution.

Once again, our long-suffering victims of terrorism are made to suffer, and that is totally unacceptable.

I would appeal to those who are presenting obstacles to the Victims’ Payment Scheme to search your souls and do what is morally right. Don’t re-traumatise people who live each day with their injuries and memories and whose lives have been blighted by the actions of terrorist armies.

If you can’t see the suffering you are causing by holding up this scheme, then our national Government has to step in to take control. That would be a dreadful state of affairs and cause severe damage to the reputation of the Stormont institutions.

Our Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis MP, cannot afford to let this issue fester much longer. He must take control and take decisive action to end what is clearly a scandal. Delaying in the vain hope that parties will negotiate a compromise when no compromise is possible will damage credibility and undermine integrity and justice.

It’s time to do what’s right!

Newsletter Campaign 8: Lord Maginnis calls on govt. to take control of Victims’ Payment Scheme

The campaign to get the Government to implement the Victims’ Payment Scheme has been taken to the House of Lords by Ulster peer, Lord Maginnis.

The former MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone has tabled a Question asking what plans the Government has to intervene directly following the failure of the Northern Ireland Executive to implement and operate the scheme.

Lord Maginnis told the ‘News Letter’: “Putting the brakes on this scheme when it was about to be introduced late May was down to Sinn Fein.

“It is all part of their effort to re-write history and to create equivalence between genuine victims and the people who made them victims. It is dishonourable behaviour by those who ‘collar and tie’ remnants of PIRA.

“They must not be allowed to get their own way on this issue. Since the scheme cannot be introduced and managed by a devolved Government department in Stormont, then it must be taken back by our national Government and administered by London.

“There is no other viable option available. It is a shameful failure but it simply must not be held up any longer.

“I’m now asking Westminster to signal its displeasure with Sinn Fein’s cold-hearted antics and to announce that it will move to end the anguish of thousands of innocent victims in Northern Ireland.

“Let’s remember, this is a UK scheme, not solely affecting people in Northern Ireland. There are victims in Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany and Spain, and it is no less than honourable that our national Government should be responsible for a scheme that will bring some financial relief to people who deserve to be treated fairly and with dignity.”

Full Question: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to (1) reports that the Northern Ireland Executive has failed to implement the Victims’ Payment Scheme for victims of terrorism successfully, and (2) the UK’s historical responsibility and involvement in the 1969–1994 counter terrorism campaign in Northern Ireland, what plans they have to take direct responsibility for the implementation and operation of that Scheme.

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Newsletter Campaign 7: ‘Justice cruelly denied’ in payment delay to victims

The delay in the opening of the Troubles Permanent Disablement Payment Scheme is inexcusable and unforgivable.

After decades of campaigning for their right to redress, and with the promise of compensation secured, justice has been cruelly denied to victims and survivors of the Troubles. Those people now face an anxious wait to access funds and services. The urgent need for action is compounded by many survivors of the Troubles being elderly or in ill health.

It is entirely unacceptable that victims be forced to wait any longer while politics once again holds up the process.

The moral duty to compensate victims was signalled when the House of Commons agreed, without a vote, to the regulations establishing the fund. The responsibility now lies with the Northern Ireland Executive to begin payments as a matter of the utmost urgency.

That recompense is an important piece of the reconciliation process. Any further delay will not only continue the suffering of victims but could well sew further seeds of distrust in the ability of the political process to resolve such issues and deliver on the needs of local people.

Stormont is only just back up and running after a too long hiatus.  I know that local people are fed up of excuse and process they want to see delivery and action.

The current situation may be a ‘win’ for those who put political goals above all else.  It is in fact a failure to deliver mature public service and duty.  I do not believe the people of Northern Ireland should, or will, put up with such selfishness.

I expect (as do the cross party members of the House of Commons NI Select Committee) all parties to do all in their power to do right by victims immediately.

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