Gregory Campbell: '˜Compensation system not fair to terror victims'

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A DUP MP has questioned the system for compensating innocent victims of the Troubles due to the difficulty faced by terror victims.

East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell was speaking after a High Court judge ruled that a man shot in the face on Bloody Sunday is to be awarded £193,000 in damages.

Mr Campbell said that while it is right that innocent victims are compensated, many innocent people will never see compensation for the injuries inflicted by terror groups such as the IRA.

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Mr Justice McAlinden ordered the compensation to Michael Quinn for injuries inflicted on him as a schoolboy when soldiers opened fire in Londonderry in 1972.

Gregory Campbell.  Photo by Freddie Parkinson / Press Eye.Gregory Campbell.  Photo by Freddie Parkinson / Press Eye.
Gregory Campbell. Photo by Freddie Parkinson / Press Eye.

The payout also includes recognition of a “cloud of suspicion” which hung over him for decades until a major inquiry established the innocence of all those killed and wounded.

Claims have been brought against the Ministry of Defence by those bereaved or wounded.

With liability accepted, three test cases have been selected for arguments on the level of damages.

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Speaking to the News Letter after the ruling, Mr Campbell said: “Although no amount of compensation can make up for it, it is right and appropriate that anybody that was injured or killed in the Troubles that, if it is possible to establish what happened, that compensation is made available.”

“While it is appropriate that somebody should be compensated, the system does not seem to work.”

He continued: “Many people who are equally innocent – whether police, soldiers or civilians – were caught up as the result of criminal actions and they haven’t received any compensation.

“The ironic thing about this is that the context for soldiers being in the Bogside on Bloody Sunday is the IRA’s attacks, shootings and bombings. Now, the state that the IRA had been trying to attack and undermine has had to compensate those who were on the civil rights march.

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“There doesn’t appear to be the same zeal to pursue to see if compensation would be applicable to the victims of their (the IRA’s) activities.”

TUV leader Jim Allister expressed a similar view, saying: “If the case was made, as the judge believed it was, a certain compensation level flows. Without taking away from the rights and wrongs of that, I know it will put a focus for many victims of terrorism on how they feel they have been treated by the courts process.

“There will not be much chance of the perpetrators paying them compensation.”

Meanwhile, Kate Nash, whose brother was amongst those killed during Bloody Sunday, said people caught up in the events that day deserve compensation.

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“About seven or eight years ago, my sister and I made a public statement that we weren’t interested in money and we were never going to take compensation, and of course that stands today,” she said.

“We really don’t feel we could benefit from the death of our brother.

“In terms of the other families, we can’t speak for them, nor would we begrudge anyone who feels this money could be put to some use. They do deserve it. I don’t think you could give those people enough money to be perfectly honest with you. No amount of money could ever make up for it.”