Anonymity not a simple solution to pensions for seriously injured victims

Free Presbyterian Minister David McIlveen (September 28) has suggested that compensation for those seriously injured can be simply solved by making those claiming it anonymous. However, such a simplistic approach overlooks that such a process would be a private one anyway in practice. It overlooks that victims will self-exclude themselves from claiming such measures where people who injured them will benefit, as they do not want to be equated with them, thus risking failing to provide for those who need it. Under the Victims and Survivors Service individuals who are injured members of paramilitary groups can benefit from services and payments. Yet the number of individuals who were members of paramilitary or state forces who were convicted and injured remains a very small number.

Compensation as a form of reparation is recognised under our own and international law as a means to acknowledge the harm caused to victims and provide them with an adequate remedy. It is not charity nor assistance, but a right for those who have suffered unlawful violation of their rights. Treating the issue of the pension as simply anonymous, silences victims, makes them faceless and continues to marginalise them to settle their morals and take the money. This risks the pension being an insult or blood money, rather than an acknowledgment and remedy for their harm.

The suggestion put forward by the Northern Ireland Office is to exclude those who are injured and convicted in the same incident. This would likely exclude individuals such as Sean Kelly, convicted for the Shankill bombing, which he was injured in. However, many individuals involved in violence during the Troubles, were either not convicted or not injured in the incident they were convicted of. Thus they could be eligible. UN Special Rapporteur Pablo de Greiff in his 2016 report on Northern Ireland suggested that the issue of the pension could be solved by providing a pension for those seriously injured and a separate programme for ex-combatants to address their needs. Indeed I have suggested that a person who has a conviction and is seriously injured could come before a review panel or conduct committee to be assessed on their needs, in particular mental health support, carers and a support payment, rather than being equated with civilians.

There is also a bigger issue of the inadequacy of compensation that was paid to bereaved families. After nearly 50 years the Bloody Sunday families are starting to be compensated, but these proceedings have been dragged through the courts to receive a fair payment that recognises the death of their loved one.

However, as with many other victims, such processes are adversarial and undignified, rather than remedying victims harm in a comprehensive manner. This is a bigger problem of dealing with the past in Northern Ireland by using ordinary justice mechanisms, which were never adequate to respond to the scale of the violence or its political nature, and has led to many further injustices for victims.

As a society we continue to fail those who suffered the most during the conflict and are left to carry the burden in the peace.

We need to be mature to find a solution that can remedy the harm of these individuals before it is too late.


Queen’s University, Beflast

A sovereign Irish nation is the solution to the Brexit conundrum

The latest debacle in the Westminster parliament has again exposed the failure of the Good Friday Agreement (GFA) to adequately address the issues they are in place to protect the enforced British border in Ireland.

In the lead up to the GFA in 1998 it was obvious there was a dual approach to dealing with Ireland, the political process and the peace process.

The peace process was supported, however, the political process was not, resulting in a submission  to the United Nations challenging the violation of Irish sovereignty by the British government and which also challenged the legitimacy of the British government to call a referendum in a part of Ireland.

What is now being witnessed are parties moving to the GFA position to find a Brexit solution by asking for a border poll/referendum.

It is clear the GFA 1998 like its predecessors, The Sunningdale Agreement 1973, the Anglo Irish Agreement 1985 has failed.

It has failed because it sought a British solution to an Irish question.

The GFA is failing because it denies the sovereign rights of the Irish people forced to live under British Rule.

Those calling for an United Ireland must explain what this means and from a republican perspective the call must be for a sovereign Ireland,

a 32-county sovereign nation, not some tinkering with language that will lead the Irish people into a Commonwealth type arrangement.

The solution that no party wants to address is the British government relinquishing their illegal sovereign claim to part of Ireland and it is around this the discussion must focus.


Omagh, Co Tyrone

Professor’s claim devoid of evidence

Professor Bill Tormey suggested that religion is a major cause of wars in the world (September 13). The evidence against the above view is massive.

For example, in their three volume set of Encyclopedia  of Wars Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod document a history of ancient, medieval and modern wars. From a list of the 1,763 wars recorded, they found 123 to be religious in nature. This represents less than 7 per cent of all the recorded wars in human history and less than 2 per cent killed in warfare. If the Muslim element is taken out it can be ascertained that Christianity was responsible for less than 3.5 per cent of all wars.

There were about three million killed in the crusades and roughly 3,000 in the inquisition. In secular wars in the 20th century alone there were roughly 160 million killed which includes about 100 million killed in the Soviet Union and China – both are and were highly secular states.

There are many causes of war which can include the desire for economic gain, territorial gain, nationalism, revenge, civil war, revolution, ideology which includes religion.

To infer that religion is one of the major causes of war is pure nonsense, totally devoid of evidence.


Belfast BT12

Name-calling an injustice

MR O’Fiach (September 16) makes the point that republicans who voted to support the GFA are “imposters”. I presume he would include the IRA as imposters as it supported the GFA.  What was written in 1916 is valid now as it was then. I hold with the principles laid down then but times and circumstances change. The GFA was very strongly supported by the Irish people. If we look at the Ireland of today there is no comparison with the Ireland 100 years ago.

Yes people do count and have used their franchise to make their voices heard.  Republicans are people orientated to the good of the people of the nation. That means listening to them especially those who are not republican minded.


Derry City