Terror victims: 32% affected by suicide says spokesman

Jonathan Ganesh, President of Docklands Victims Association
Jonathan Ganesh, President of Docklands Victims Association

A victims group says that 32% of its members have either taken their lives or attempted suicide due to mental health issues caused by terrorism.

Jonathan Ganesh, President of the London based Docklands Victims Association (DVA) discovered the figure during a survey of around 2000 members in the Republic of Ireland, Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

“I was in a state of shock,” Mr Ganesh told the News Letter.

Mr Ganesh, who grew up in Limerick and is related to former Dail President Eamon De Valera, suffered serious injuries in the 1996 IRA bomb in London.

“Victims of terrorism have taken their own lives due to severe PTSD and other mental health conditions,” he said.

DVA consulted members as part of its response to current government consultations on dealing with the past.

“It has emerged during our consultation that a vast number of victims of the Troubles, who are from mainland GB, the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, have attempted or taken their own lives due to PTSD (Post traumatic Stress Disorder) and other mental health conditions.”

He said that victims were very concerned about “perpetrators of terrorist acts” being offered Troubles-related pensions and that they are defined as “victims” under current legislation.

“GB, Northern Ireland and Republic of Ireland victims and their families who have been impacted by the Troubles feel worthless and abandoned as US victims of IRA terrorism injured by Gaddafi Semtex explosive managed to secure compensation from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi.

“Therefore, the US IRA victims have now obtained superior medical care have financial security which will be immensely beneficial due to their deteriorating health conditions. In addition to compensating US IRA victims of the Troubles, Gaddafi also compensated French and German victims of international terrorism.

“Victims of IRA terrorism in GB and the Republic of Ireland do not receive adequate support, care and funding from the VSS (Victims Survivors Service in Northern Ireland).

“However, it has been confirmed as a result of our consultations that victims based in Northern Ireland have received superior support, care and funding which has been denied to those from mainland GB and the Republic of Ireland. Therefore, GB victims groups have had to raise funds independently to help and support victims based in GB and the Republic of Ireland.”

Mr Ganesh said his group is meeting senior Northern Ireland Officials about the issues tomorrow.

A survivor of one of the most notorious IRA bombings of the Troubles says he attempted to take his life because he was haunted by what happened.

Joe Holbeach, from Lurgan in Co Armagh, was yards from a massive Remembrance Sunday explosion at the war memorial in Enniskillen in November 1987.

Twelve people died and he was left suffering from depression.

He said: “I attempted suicide because I’m haunted by what I saw and still feel. The government has abandoned me and all the other victims.

“If UK and Irish victims had US passports we would have been compensated by Gaddafi.

“These US victims managed to get better health care. I had to beg Victims Support Service (VSS) for a cooker.”

Mr Holbeach backed the campaign for better support led by the DVA.