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Murdered dissident's family get 'substantial' compensation

Michael McHugh

JUSTICE minister David Ford said compensation paid to the family of murdered dissident republican Kieran Doherty was in line with an official scheme.

Compensation is being awarded to the 31-year-old's mother, Christine, and grand-mother, after he was shot dead by former associates in the Real IRA three years ago.

During a debate in the assembly yesterday, Mr Ford said the two claimants were given a bereavement award and funeral expenses were given to Mr Doherty's mother, reduced by 50 per cent on account of Mr Doherty's unspent criminal conviction.

The amount agreed by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel has not been disclosed, but an uncle of Mr Doherty has confirmed it is "substantial".

For one eligible claimant the award is £11,000, and for two it is £5,500 per claimant.

Mr Doherty was kidnapped, stripped and killed outside Derry three years ago.

He had served a jail sentence in the Republic for robbery while a member of the Real IRA, but his family said they believed he wanted to move on with his life after he was released, and had been planning to marry his partner.

Mr Ford said: "As Minister of Justice I have no power to interfere in the decision of an independent appeal panel, nor do I have any power to stop the payment of any compensation awarded by the panel."

A wider compensation review is under way.

DUP MLA Paul Givan said: "Payment of compensation is an expression of public sympathy and support for the innocent victims.

"In no way is a payment of compensation to anyone that was in a terrorist organisation to be regarded as showing public support."

But Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney said the compensation legislation was fair and recognised loss. He added the family followed due process in law and criticised unionists who raised the Doherty compensation at the assembly.

"The only reason people are objecting to this is the internecine strife going on within unionism," he claimed.

He added: "There is almost a knee-jerk reaction when you hear the word republican, nationalist or Catholic."

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