Campaign: Dad of young IRA victim tells Stormont — Get your act together on payments scheme

The father of one of the youngest victims of the Troubles’has delivered a blunt ‘get your act together’ message to politicians at Stormont.

Wednesday, 1st July 2020, 2:51 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd July 2020, 5:34 pm
Jackie Nicholl lost his 17-month-old son in an IRA bomb attack 49 years ago

Former trade unionist Jackie Nicholl and his wife Ann, lost their 17-month-old son, Colin, in an IRA bomb attack on a furniture showroom on the Shankill Road 49 years ago.

Mr Nicholl said he was very saddened that innocent victims of terrorism were still not receiving payments under the Victims’ Payment Scheme that was due to be introduced at the end of May.

In support of a campaign by the News Letter and the Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW) calling for the implementation of the scheme, he expressed frustration over the failure of the devolved government on the issue.

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“To the people at Stormont, you’ve just been saying the same thing as you’ve been saying over and over again. Get your act together.

“Start working for the people of Northern Ireland and get things done. They’re not doing that,” said Mr Nicholl.

Mr Nicholl also pointed to the dire needs of victims who expected to qualify for a payment.

He added: “It’s very disappointing because when you consider that there has been so many people murdered in Northern Ireland, and so many in a position where they would require a pension, it’s very sad to me.

“I would love to see those people, especially those people in real need, I would like to see that paid out to them as soon as possible.”

Ulster Human Rights Watch advocacy manager, Axel Schmidt, said the views expressed by Mr Nicholl were similar to those held by many others.

Mr Schmidt added: “The loss of a baby in a terrorist bombing was profoundly barbaric. Nearly a half century later, there’s never a day goes by but Mr Nicholl and his wife don’t think of Colin and what happened on that dreadful day.

“The payment is one thing, and it is important, but a big part of the scheme was the acknowledgement of the pain and suffering experienced by loved ones and those left with life-changing injuries.

“After years of campaigning, there were expectations that the scheme would begin to address a deficit by recognising the very large number of innocent victims there are in our society. Their hopes were short-lived after it became clear nothing had been done to prepare for the start of the scheme in May.

“That was callous and with no advance warning from the administration, it came as a complete shock to people who believed they were making progress at last.

“This is a UK scheme passed by Parliament and if Stormont can’t implement it, then the responsibility for rolling it out and managing it has to be taken over by the government immediately.”