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!