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Ministers appoint new victims commissioner

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness with Judith Thompson, the new Commissioner for Victims and Survivors
Connla Young

A former probation officer has been appointed to the post of Victims Commissioner.

Judith Thompson will take up her new £75,000 a year job in September.

The post has been vacant since former commissioner Katherine Stone stood down last year.

Ms Thompson, who is originally from Stockport in England, has worked at Skills for Justice since 2004.

The new commissioner said she has an understanding of the issues faced by victims.

"There are no easy answers but the voices of those who have been injured and the families of those who have died must be heard and it is my job to ensure that not only are they heard but that we act positively and proactively on what they say," she said.

Kenny Donaldson from Innocent Victims United, which represents unionist victims of the Troubles, said he will be seeking a meeting with the new commissioner.

"We would wish to hear a commitment given by Mrs Thompson and OFMDFM in an initial press conference or public statement that her role will see her advocating unashamedly for victims and survivors facilitating a process which strives to resolve issues which are clearly broken," he said.

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness welcomed the appointment.

"We are confident Judith will provide a strong independent voice for victims and survivors contributing to the development of policies to ensure their longer-term needs are addressed in a compassionate and considered way.

"This appointment is not just about dealing with the pain and bitterness of the past but ensuring tolerance, parity of esteem and mutual respect become the bedrock of a new shared future."

First Minister Peter Robinson said the new commissioner "will play a critical role in providing professional, sensitive and needs focussed support to victims and survivors. I wish her well in her new post."

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