Sunday 19 November 2017

€4k carers' payment denied to terror victims in Republic

MURDERED: Prison chief Brian Stack was shot dead
MURDERED: Prison chief Brian Stack was shot dead
Jim Cusack

Jim Cusack

Victims of IRA and loyalist violence in the Republic have been denied a €4,000-a-year carers' allowance, while ex- terrorists have been getting fat on government slush funds.

People in the Republic who are caring for those who were injured or suffered the trauma of having a loved one murdered are being deprived of a support grant available in Northern Ireland since 2009.

Some 118 people were murdered by terrorist groups in the Republic during the Troubles, about half killed by the IRA and half in loyalist bomb attacks. Dozens were badly injured in the loyalist bomb attacks and have needed care throughout their lives.

Many of the victims are getting old and the scheme in Northern Ireland, The Victims and Survivors Service, provides just over £3,000 (€4,065) a year to assist carers for the ageing - and largely forgotten - victims of terrorism.

The grant in the North was finally won after years of campaigning by support groups that have formed among the victims' families in the UK and Republic. Innocent Victims United (IVU), an umbrella group of more than 20,000 victims of terrorism mostly in Northern Ireland but also in Britain and the Republic, has now called on the Irish Government to extend the carers' grant to the Republic.

While the scheme was introduced in Northern Ireland, no parallel arrangements were put in place for the survivors and their carers in the Republic.

It is understood that despite appeals from IVU, the issue of the carers' assistance in the Republic ended up being passed from one department to another and never came into being.

Victims organiser Kenny Donaldson said: "IVU has campaigned for Governments to collectively work together around the provision of services for victims/survivors of the Troubles. The Stormont, UK and ROI governments need to come together and cough up the resources needed, as well as put in place the necessary political and practical frameworks to enable it to happen. This is particularly pertinent where the 'support for the seriously injured' pension is concerned.

"Weekly, IVU is being contacted by victims/survivors based in GB and ROI who are struggling emotionally, physically and financially and who have nowhere to go. The legacy of terrorism in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland is significant and governments need to wake up once and for all and do right by their citizens who are suffering in silence.

"We have met with and lobbied many senior politicians from across the political spectrum on a UK, ROI and NI basis and this work will intensify along with other campaigning strategies.

"We stand shoulder to shoulder with GB and ROI-based victims and survivors of terrorism and 'other Troubles-related violence' - they must be given a standing and acknowledgement that has not been forthcoming to date."

Victims in the Republic include those killed in the 1970s in the loyalist bomb attacks in Dublin, Belturbet in Co Cavan, Monaghan and Dundalk. The IRA murdered people throughout the Republic, including the Fine Gael Senator Billy Fox, who was shot by the IRA in Co Monaghan in March 1974. The IRA attempted to divert blame for the murder of Senator Fox, the only member of the Oireachtas to be murdered in the Troubles, saying it was carried out by other republican paramilitary groups who were active at the time but investigations by gardai established the murder was carried out purely because Senator Fox was a Protestant. At the time the IRA was murdering Protestants along the Border in what was effectively a genocidal campaign to drive Protestants from the Border area. Hundreds of Protestant civilians and part-time members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary and the Ulster Defence Regiment, later amalgamated into the mainstream British Army, were murdered along the Border.

Many of these victims were murdered in front of their families, leaving long-term issues of grief and suffering.

The introduction of the massive 'peace funds' after 1998 made matters worse for many of the victims' families as they watched as millions were pumped into ex-prisoner groups associated with Sinn Fein.

The IRA and its offshoots also murdered 12 gardai, as well as prison officer Brian Stack in March 1983 and Private Patrick Kelly, shot dead in December the same year.

Sunday Independent

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