Victims' group calls for special pensions for those severely injured during Troubles
A VICTIMS' group appealing for special pensions for those severely injured during the Troubles has questioned why funding for groups with paramilitary links "could be found so quickly".
The Injured Group at the WAVE Trauma Centre has written to political and church leaders urging them to back their calls for a pension for people who have been unable to build up occupational pensions as a result of their injuries.
The organisation estimates around 500 people live with permanent life-changing injuries as a result of the Troubles, including Paul Gallagher from west Belfast, who was paralysed in a UFF gun attack on his home in 1994 when he and his family were held hostage.
Alan McBride, WAVE Injured Group co-ordinator, said while political parties are "all on record as saying they support the idea of a pension for severely injured....saying they support it is about as far as it has gone".
"Unfortunately the Injured Group have hit a brick wall with regard to the two Executive parties, the DUP and Sinn Féin, who are unable to agree about who is eligible for a pension," he said.
"It has been particularly hard to watch as groups led by those with links to paramilitary organisations will be funded to the tune of millions of pounds from the Social Investment Fund, and that a further £50 million is being set aside to pave the way for the transition from mafia-style gangsterism to becoming ordinary citizens."
He said although the group's members "do not begrudge money being used to help Northern Ireland transition...they wonder how this money could be found so quickly when they have been campaigning for years with nothing to show for it beyond tea and sympathy".