The announcement by the NIO on Friday on the reappointment of Judith Thompson is sadly a further illustration of the contempt with which innocent victims/survivors of terrorism are held.
The NIO are out of touch with the largest constituency of victims/survivors.
This was evident over the period of the legacy consultation process and yesterday’s cowardly announcement is a continuance of that policy.
Twenty seven victims groups publicly stated their lack of confidence and trust in the leadership offered by the existing victims commissioner, the three main unionist political parties were clear that the commissioner needed to cease her period in office and others were public in their opposition to her continuance in the role.
For five weeks we have sought a meeting with the new secretary of state for Northern Ireland Julian Smith MP or appointed senior officials to discuss our grave concerns following the publications of the commissioner’s advice on pensions for the seriously injured, a two line email was what we were treated to.
Meanwhile the commissioner has offered no acknowledgement of the dire view of her office among the largest swathe of victim/survivor sector opinion.
The NIO seem not to care that the commissioner is not fulfilling the very remit to which she was appointed under statute to fulfil — because the commissioner does not hold the confidence and trust of large swathes of those she is supposedly in place to advocate on behalf and she refuses to represent the case for policy change on a range of victim/survivor related issues.
The NIO is becoming a damaged brand and Mr Smith has immense work ahead if he is to rebuild confidence with our constituency.
Kenny Donaldson, Spokesman Innocent Victims United, Lisnaskea, Fermanagh