Great Britain-based terror victims have added their voices to those demanding that anyone involved in terrorism cannot qualify for a Troubles pension.
The Docklands Victims Association (DVA) has branded the proposed payments for the most seriously injured “immoral” – as the current definition of a victim does not exclude those injured while engaged in terrorism.
Inam Bashir and John Jeffries were killed and more than 100 people injured when an IRA bomb exploded at Canary Wharf in February 1996.
Victims’ Commissioner Judith Thompson said her advice to government has been based on the definition of a victim contained in the 2006 Victims and Survivors (NI) Order, which does not differentiate between innocent victims and perpetrators.
Earlier this week a number of other victims’ groups called on Ms Thompson to resign, claiming the commissioner should have recommended changes in the definition rather than embracing it.
Although new legislation rushed through the Commons last week does not explicitly exclude injured terrorists from the pension proposals, a minister assured MPs that the “victim-makers” would not benefit.
Yesterday, DVA president Jonathan Ganesh said IRA victims believe the proposed pension is immoral, and will “encourage terrorists as it justifies their actions”.
He added: “All terrorists that participate in terror are wrong as countless innocent people have been killed and left severely disabled.”
Ihsan Bashir, whose brother Inam was killed in the 1996 Docklands bomb, said: “How can those that killed and maimed innocent peoples ... feel that they deserve a pension”.
Ms Thompson has rejected calls for her to resign, saying she “entirely understands” the anger around the pension issue but will continue to “communicate ... the views of all victims and survivors”.
Meanwhile, a body representing former police officers has said the victims’ commissioner should “consider her position” over her stance on the pension for Troubles victims.
A spokesman for the NI Retired Police Officers’ Association said: “NIRPOA are appalled that perpetrators of terrorist violence should be treated similarly to all innocent victims. Widows and families of murdered and injured police officers are offended beyond words at the very idea of this happening.
“We fully support the calls for Judith Thompson to consider her position as victims’ commissioner, in light of the public outcry at her stated position.”