Victims and veterans query Tory-DUP deal

Prime Minister Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster outside 10 Downing Street in London today. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.
Prime Minister Theresa May and DUP leader Arlene Foster outside 10 Downing Street in London today. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo.

A victims’ umbrella group has decribed the Tory-DUP deal unveiled today as “bland and limited”.

The last paragraph of the official text of the deal says that the government and DUP will progress the Stormont House Agreement bodies to deal with the legacy of the Troubles.

Consultation on the legislation is to press ahead and the implementation is to be carried out in a manner that is balanced and proportionate and will not unfairly focus on former member of the security forces.

Kenny Donaldson, Spokesman for Innocent Victims United stated: “The reference to legacy within the short document ‘UK Government financial support for Northern Ireland’ is particularly bland and limited.

“We certainly welcome and associate ourselves with the statement of support and recognition included for the role of the Police and Armed Services played over the years of ‘The Troubles.’

“However we would have liked to have seen other key requirements for innocent victims and survivors of terrorism included up front and clearly.

“It may be the case that other agreements and understandings have been given which cannot be published at this stage but certainly we would expect progress and delivery on long-standing issues such as; definition of victim, compensation for the victims/survivors of Gaddaffi-Libyan sponsored PIRA terrorism, the reinstatement of War Pension for those Army widows who remarried, progress on the Pension for the seriously injured etc.”

IVU also welcomes resources being made available for the development of a Mental Health Trauma service - £10 million per year for the next 5 years - to deal with the legacy of terrorism, but seeks clarity on whether this is new monies above and beyond that which was previously committed, he added.

Upper Bann Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie MC said that the Military Veterans in Northern Ireland will be watching with interest to see what delivery mechanisms have been agreed by the DUP in order to ensure that the Military Covenant is fully implemented and delivered in Northern Ireland.

Mr Beattie said: “We welcome the fact that the DUP has made the Armed Forces Covenant a priority. However, the Armed Forces community in Northern Ireland have been here before. In the six years that the Armed Forces Covenant has been operating throughout the UK, veterans in Northern Ireland have been promised they would receive equality of treatment with their colleagues in GB.

“What is absolutely essential now - and key to promoting confidence within the veterans’ community - is that the DUP outlines the delivery mechanisms that it has negotiated with the Government and how they propose to deliver on devolved matters, such as housing, health and education, because it is the delivery that has been failing up until now.”

He added: “The bottom line is that the Covenant is here and has been here for six years. It is already being implemented but how it is delivered needs to change to ensure that our veterans receive the support they deserve.”