Doug Beattie: Paralysed man facing £30k care bill ‘one of forgotten Troubles victims’

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A man who was left paralysed following a sectarian gun attack in Belfast 40 years ago is facing legal action over his care bill.

Kevin Rafferty was shot in the head by a loyalist gunmen in a case of mistaken identity in June 1978.

Doug Beattie

Doug Beattie

The 65-year-old told the BBC he has received a £30,000 bill from the Belfast Health Trust for arrears over the cost of his care in a Dunmurry nursing home.

He said that his disability benefits had been drastically cut over the least two years. He relies on benefits and state pension, and said he has never had any financial help from victims groups.

Victims’ Commissioner Judith Thompson said, in the absence of a functioning government in NI, it is now time for Westminster to intervene and introduce legislation to allow for victims’ pensions.

However, UUP MLA Doug Beattie felt Ms Thompson “has not done enough for the thousands of forgotten victims of the Troubles”.

“It is about time she stood up and said their voices need to be heard,” he told the News Letter.

“Mr Rafferty is another victim who has fallen between the cracks. This is indicative of how we treat those who were injured during the Troubles.

“It is all well and good people saying that a small select few should have a victims pension, but the reality is society at large has forgotten about these people, no longer care about these people and have put them out of their minds. I find that an absolute disgrace.”

Mr Rafferty was standing in for a friend serving customers in Belfast’s Smithfield Market when he was shot through the left eye by loyalist paramilitaries.

He spent 17 months in hospital and was left with life-changing injuries.

Mr Rafferty is now confined to a wheelchair, still has difficulty talking, and needs round-the-clock care.

He has received a bill for about £30,000 from the Belfast Trust towards the cost of the care he receives at the Kilwee Care Home in Dunmurry where he has lived for the past five years, according to the BBC.

The trust told the BBC it does not comment on individual cases. However, it is understood to be seeking a resolution.

Mr Rafferty added that he has never heard of the Victims and Survivors Service, which was set up by the Stormont Executive, and last year spent almost £15m on victim-related issues.

As stated in the 2014 Stormont House Agreement, the Executive was supposed to find a way to support severely physically injured victims in Northern Ireland through a pension. But it was never implemented because agreement could not be reached over the definition of a victim.