GB victims press for pension

Frederick Wayne and Jonathan Ganesh of Docklands Victims Association meet Theresa Villiers
Frederick Wayne and Jonathan Ganesh of Docklands Victims Association meet Theresa Villiers

IRA victims who were maimed by bombing campaigns in Great Britain have met with Secretary of State Theresa Villiers to lobby for Troubles-related pensions.

A delegation led by Jonathan Ganesh, President of the Docklands Victims Association, met Ms Villiers on Wednesday in Westminster.

Great Britain victims have been spurred to action by worsening conditions of some of their number – and by DUP proposals going through the Assembly for a pension for Troubles victims in Northern Ireland. The original proposals did not offer any benefits to victims in GB.

Mr Ganesh said: “I think we got a very good hearing from Ms Villiers. She said she had every sympathy with us and that we had her support. She is going to lobby the Ministry of Justice in London on this.”

Mrs Gemma Berezag, whose husband was severely disabled in the 1996 London Docklands bombing, was very pleased by the meeting. “My Zaoui and others like him in GB also need this help so we can provide better care,” she said.

The DUP have vowed that nobody with terrorist convictions would benefit from the proposals. DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson said yesterday that he has arranged various meetings with Whitehall ministers on behalf of GB victims.

“We are preparing the bill to launch it at Stormont after the summer recess,” he added. “Its success depends very much on whether the SDLP decide to support it.”

An SDLP spokesman responded last night that it “agrees in principle to a pension scheme based in legislation for those seriously injured as a result of the conflict here”.

A spokeswoman for Ms Villiers said she welcomed her meeting with the GB delegation.

The Stormont House Agreement contained a commitment to see if such a pension could be agreed, the spokeswoman said, and Ms Villiers continues to engage with Northern Ireland political leaders to try to resolve the issue. She has now agreed to discuss GB victim pensions with departmental colleagues.

Ms Villiers made it clear that the government does not agree with pensions “for those injured at their own hands while involved in terrorism”.