DCSIMG

Explanation for funding delay ‘not good enough’, say victim groups

Pacemaker Press 28/2/2012 
 Community Work Ian Bothwell  pictured in Belfast Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Pacemaker Press 28/2/2012 Community Work Ian Bothwell pictured in Belfast Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

Troubles victims’ groups say that related funding coming from the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) mysteriously stopped as long as five months ago.

OFMDFM has said that applications for funding have been higher than anticipated and that the relevant budget for 2013-14 had been used up.

Kenny Donaldson of Innocent Victims United (IVU), a consortia of 21 groups, expressed concern at delays in schemes administered by 
the Victims and Survivors Service (VSS) on behalf of OFMDFM.

“In recent weeks IVU and its member organisations have been contacted by hundreds of victims and survivors who are becoming increasingly frustrated at the lack of progress around the release of award letters against the various support schemes that they are eligible for, and for which they applied, in some cases from as far back as February,” he said.

Mr Donaldson said that OFMDFM committee chairman Mike Nesbitt asked about the delays via the Assembly last month.

At the time OFMDFM responded that the VSS had received 2,041 applications since February 4 “which was higher than anticipated”, and that the service had issued 787 award letters – “the maximum possible based on the budget available for 2013-14”.

OFMDFM added: “The remaining applications are currently being processed to ensure that when the schemes and budgets are opened for 2014-2015, the service will be in a position to respond with minimum delay.”

But Mr Donaldson said the OFMDFM explanation “was not good enough”.

He added: “Victims and survivors should not be made feel like beggars, our political system needs to get its’ act together and deliver upon the assurances that have been made in recent years that victims and survivors would receive professional and empathetic services and supports in a manner which delivers upon their needs.”

OFMDFM had not commented at the time of going to press.

Ian Bothwell of Crossfire Trust, Darkley, said the funding for his group had also been delayed since March.

“There are excellent people administering these schemes and they have great understanding of the issues involved,” he told the News Letter.

“But this funding for respite care and social support was awarded in March and has still not been released. We are trying to help many hidden victims of the Troubles who have never come forward before. We are talking about people from across the political spectrum. It is a trans-generational issue, in some cases we are looking at the third generation that have been impacted by the Troubles.

“There seems to be a blockage at the very top and we don’t know why or when it is likely to be resolved.

“We have been getting VSS funding for the past two years.”

Ian Bothwell of Crossfire Trust, Darkley, said the funding for his group had also been delayed since March.

“There are excellent people administering these schemes and they have great understanding of the issues involved,” he told the News Letter.

“But this funding for respite care and social support was awarded in March and has still not been released. We are trying to help many hidden victims of the Troubles who have never come forward before. We are talking about people from across the political spectrum. It is a trans-generational issue, in some cases we are looking at the third generation that have been impacted by the Troubles.

“There seems to be a blockage at the very top and we don’t know why or when it is likely to be resolved.

“We have been getting VSS funding for the past two years.”

 

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