Victim definition: unionists call for public consultation

UUP MP Tom Elliott
UUP MP Tom Elliott

Unionists have called on the secretary of state to hold a public consultation on the statutory definition of a victim.

The current Victims and Survivors (NI) Order makes no distinction between people who were killed or injured while carrying out acts of terrorism and those they targeted. The legislation is controversially shaping who is entitled to special state support.

The leader of the current UUP political talks team, Tom Elliott, says he has asked Secretary of State James Brokenshire and officials to include consultation on the definition as part of possible plans to launch public consultation on the proposed legacy bodies in the Stormont House Agreement.

“The secretary of state did not reject the idea,” Mr Elliott told the News Letter.

“We have asked him that if they are going to go to public consultation on the Stormont House Agreement, then might we see any consultation on the law regarding the definition of a victim also? They have not said ‘no’ but they have not said ‘yes’ either. I believe it is significant they did not immediately rule it out.”

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said his party had also addressed the issue.

“We have also raised this issue with the secretary of state as well as a pension for severely injured innocent victims,” he said. “As both issues are clearly connected we are keen to see them consulted on as well.”

A UK government spokesman said it was “not giving a running commentary on private discussions” while Sinn Fein responded that it is “opposed to any attempt to create a hierarchy of victims”.

Legacy issues continue to be a key strand of ongoing discussions between the Stormont parties.