A victims’ group has written to all 650 MPs urging them to put pressure on the UK government to make sure that Sinn Fein do not derail the pension for victims of the Troubles.
The regulations for the pension were passed by Parliament and are therefore a national scheme. The guidance provided by the secretary of state excludes terrorists ‘injured at their own hand’ and this, Ulster Human Rights Watch maintain, is precisely in line with the purpose of the scheme.
Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW) has told the MPs that terrorists must not be treated the same as the people they harmed.
The scheme stalled at the 11th hour in a disagreement at Stormont over the definition of a victim that had been approved in Westminster legislation.
The UHRW letter says the postponement of the scheme was a shattering blow to innocent victims.
“Innocent victims have waited years for a scheme that acknowledged their pain and suffering and held out the prospect of some much-needed financial assistance for them”, the letter states.
The guidance provided by the secretary of state excludes terrorists ‘injured at their own hand’ and this, the UHRW maintain, is precisely in line with the purpose of the scheme.
The letter continues: “Literally hundreds of victims with life-changing physical and psychological conditions have been treated appallingly and inhumanely.”
UHRW managing director, Robert Campbell, and advocacy manager, Axel Schmidt, state: “The Victims’ Payment Scheme must be implemented without further delay.
“There is an impasse within the devolved Northern Ireland Executive due to the stance adopted by Sinn Fein. There is little real prospect of bridging the divide that separates the parties.
“That being the case, there is a clear and moral responsibility on the United Kingdom government to step in. These regulations were passed by Parliament and are therefore a national scheme which some of your constituents may be entitled to.
“Ministers at Westminster and the NIO cannot go on indefinitely waiting for a political change of heart at Stormont. It therefore falls to the UK government to take control of the operation and management of the scheme to end this scandalous state of affairs.
“We would strongly urge you to lobby ministers. We would ask you to be the voice for innocent victims of terrorism not only in Northern Ireland, but in Great Britain, Germany, the Netherlands and Spain.”
The letter continues: “The terrorists who murdered, bombed and maimed do not deserve to be treated in the same way as the innocent people they so grievously harmed. The life-changing injuries sustained by the innocent do not in any shape or form equate with the individuals who planted the bomb or pulled the trigger.
“We respectfully ask you to bring the voice of the innocent to the floor of the House of Commons and the ear of Cabinet. It is time to bring this shameful delay to an end and your support would be invaluable in persuading Ministers to intervene in order to bring this appalling injustice to an end.”
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