Victims Groups question Assembly decision to push ahead for RUC Reserve payments
The Shankill Stress &Trauma Group and Relatives for Justice, organisations working with and supporting people bereaved and injured during the conflict, have released the following statement on behalf of people they support in response to yesterday’s Assembly decision to go it alone with the motion on RUC Reserve payments rather than seeking a collective approach that includes ordinary victims from all backgrounds.
Alan Wardle of the Shankill Stress & Trauma Group said:
‘Concerns about the Assembly decision to lobby a future Secretary of State re ‘gratuity’ payments to the RUC Reserve will have an overall negative impact reinforcing the view felt by many victims that there are the deserving and undeserving post conflict. In communities like the Shankill and the Falls victims feel isolated and disempowered and are asking where the equality of all this is. They feel left behind and this latest decision will no doubt add to that feeling.
‘Whilst the central issue raised in yesterday’s Assembly debate was around pension rights nevertheless it impacts directly on the past and how we address these issues including that of raparations/compensation. In this context we believe that it is premature to take forward this motion and that it should be part of the wider debate as part of the NIO consultation on how we deal with the past. Rather than go it alone this is the most logical forum for this to be discussed and decided upon. It should not be separated from that wider debate.’
Mark Thompson from Relatives for Justice added that;
‘This was clearly recognised by the DUP in terms of yesterday’s Assembly debate when they made mention of payments to the UDA to justify payments to the RUC Reserve when in fact the DUP were rightly opposed to any form of payment to the UDA in the first instance. It appears that if you are not a member of an organisation such as the RUC or the UDA then there is little chance of receiving attention or support within the Assembly or the NIO. That is why this issue must be part of that wider debate in which equality for all can be achieved.
‘Ordinary victims throughout the community, many who have had little to no compensation, will rightly question this decision and view it as highly controversial. Others feel strongly that the RUC Reserve should not receive any payments.
‘The RUC received £11million package as part of the George Cross award in addition to the huge severance payments made under the Patten recommendations. Numerous fund-raising initiatives have also flowed aimed at addressing the perceived fall-out of the Patten Report in terms of placating the RUC and acknowledging its role – a role that is contested. This has caused disquiet across the community whilst ordinary victims within working class communities on the Shankill and Falls struggle economically coping with their bereavement and injury. Effectively they have received no external recognition or payments and groups like Shankill Stress and RFJ struggle on limited financial resources to sustain and meet increasing demands for support from victims. All these issues must form part of a wider debate.’