Dear Madam, - On Thursday night last in a packed Long Gallery at Parliament Buildings, Stormont upwards on 100 victims and survivors questioned politicians on the proposals contained within the Stormont House Dis’Agreement’ in respect of ‘Dealing with the Past’ and of providing for victims and survivors needs today and the days to come.
The core issue which cross referenced much of the discussion was the current definition of ‘victim’ and the hurt it causes to innocent victims and survivors of terrorism.
Last Thursday evening Trevor Lunn MLA of the Alliance Party stated that he found the current definition “disgusting in its equating of perpetrator with innocent victim” and that it could not be justified.
Previously Justice Spokesman for the SDLP Alban Maginness MLA expressed a similar view in an interview given to the COI Gazette where he said that there is “no moral equivalence between a perpetrator and victim”.
Politicians must make the step change from whispering their disapproval at the current definition of victim as laid down in the 2006 NI Order to actually insisting that their parties adopt a proactive stance of bringing about a change to that definition.
Politicians should further understand that they have within their grasp the ability to rewrite a terrible wrong that was committed at the point of the 2006 NI Order where the absence of exclusion clauses nor a reference as to how bereavement or injury was suffered has meant that terrorists, criminals (and their families) have sought to decriminalise their actions whilst benefitting from the resources and supports put in place for those who have been subjected to terror and/or criminal violence.
Trevor Lunn and Alban Maginness are not lone rangers in their respective parties, their colleagues know that the views they have expressed represent the Truth - it is now up to those parties to start putting innocent victims first. Were they to do so then the word ‘innocent’ would need no longer be part of the fabric of our Society - this is an issue of black and white, there are perpetrators and there are victims.
We have stated previously our preference that political parties would themselves initiate a change to the definition but it they do not have the conviction to do so then they must as a bare minimum support the holding of a Referendum into the issue where the people of Northern Ireland (including those directly hurt) would for the first time have the opportunity to state their position on these matters.
The policy of political appeasement of the Republican Movement which surrounds the initial 2006 definition must be redressed once and for all. Will political parties support the innocent victims and survivors of terrorism and ‘other Troubles related violence’ or will they continue to treat such individuals with contempt?
Yours faithfully, Kenny Donaldson Innocent Victims United Lisnaskea, South Fermanagh