The Ulster Unionist Party’s Justice Spokesperson, Doug Beattie MC MLA, has strongly opposed the idea that perpetrators of terrorist violence, injured by their own hand, should benefit from a pension.
Doug Beattie MC MLA said:
“The discussions around pensions for the most seriously injured has been an ongoing issue for many years. Indeed, it has been debated recently in both Houses of Westminster as part of the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill. Today the victims Commissioner released her revised advice to the Secretary of State (SoS) for Northern Ireland – Karen Bradley – and the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) outlining how we should proceed.
“That advice is detailed, as it talks about a Victims and Survivors Pension Arrangement (VASPA) which will apply throughout the whole of the United Kingdom to include both the physically and psychologically injured due to the Troubles. It is the right thing to do as those who were injured, through no fault of their own, deserve to be secure financially in the years to come. The Ulster Unionist Party fully supports a pension for innocent victims and asks for it to be implemented as soon as is possible.
“However there remains a serious issue in the provisions of the VASPA - that those were injured by their own hand while conducting terrorist atrocities will be grouped along with those who became victims because of their actions. This is not acceptable and the Ulster Unionist Party position is clear - in the case of VASPA, the rules around eligibility should be in line with the UK Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme where it states: ‘We can compensate blameless victims of violent crime, or people whose loved ones have died as a result of a violent crime’.
“The key word being blameless.
“We do not oppose providing medical and other help for those who are damaged by their actions - and recognise how their families also suffer and have needs - but we cannot condone financially rewarding those who inflicted such pain on others. The testimony from the family of Private Grant Weir, seriously injured by an IRA bomb must inform our thinking. We cannot accept the suggestion fact that those who detonated the bomb that injured Grant Weir and murdered Christian missionary Sylvia Crowe may now, perversely, qualify for a pension.
“Would this be the advice if we were discussing the Manchester Arena bombing and would MPs really believe that to be appropriate?
“We recognise the Commissioner has an immensely challenging role to perform, requiring delicate balance between often competing demands. However, this Commissioner has long since failed to maintain that balance and has lost the confidence of victims and survivors throughout Northern Ireland. On that basis, her position is untenable.”