A VICTIM of the Omagh bomb has criticised the Secretary of State, for including a section in the consultation on Troubles pensions, which suggests a timeframe cut-off at the Good Friday Agreement which in effect will deny payments to the Omagh victims.
In the proposal put forward for public consultation, the Secretary of State Julian Smith accepts that, “Any time period selected will create parameters by which some victims will be excluded”.
Claire Monteith who lost her brother Alan Radford in the explosion which also left her mother with serious head injuries, has described the proposed timeframe as “insensitive and gut wrenching” and said suffering had no parameters.
“This phrase is not only unjust, it is grossly insensitive, and should never have been included in the first place,” said Claire. “Why is any victim excluded? Terrorism is terrorism. Injury – emotional or physical – is injury. Victims, unfortunately, are best placed to understand that. Just because some elements where on ceasefire, does that act as an excuse for those who weren’t?
“Sickening though it is, terrorism and injury don’t discriminate when creating victims, so neither should the Secretary of State in addressing the tragic outworkings of such atrocities. There are no parameters on suffering.
“I do not seek to take away from those within the specified dates at all – far from it – but this is a shameful and deeply offensive suggestion.”
Claire called on the Secretary of State to “seriously review this particular section”.
She continued, “Should he seek to rely on the issue of parameters not being fully decided, I ask him to consider just how gut-wrenching it has been for victims outside his suggested timeframe. He knew we would take part in the consultation, and I cannot over emphasise how cruel, insensitive and wholly unjustified this suggestion is.
“We have been denied our loved ones and any normality of life in the aftermath. We have been denied justice. We have been denied closure. Now we are facing denial of the very fact we are victims of an atrocity which claimed more lives in a single incident during the terrorist campaign. Every single step for victims has been a fight – to be heard, to be acknowledged, to be understood. We are not giving up now. On behalf of all who face falling outside the defined timeframe, I am calling on the Secretary of State to address this bitter, hurtful issue as matter of urgency.”
It is noted within the consultation document that the terrorist campaign, “Began in 1966 and ended with the signing of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement on April 10, 1998.
“It may be that this provides the basis for setting the time limits for the scheme. But as with many aspects of this scheme, the time period that it would cover is clearly an issue that will need to be considered very carefully.
“Any time period selected will create parameters by which some victims will be excluded.”
The consultation will run for five weeks and the UK Government – who have brought forward the proposals in the absence of a Stormont Executive – is urging “anyone with an interest or view, to inform the shape of legislation to be introduced by end-January 2020”.
The consultation will close on November 26.
Pensions of almost £10,000 per year are recommended in the proposals for those most seriously injured during the Troubles.
Claire said her family are still living with the effects of the Omagh Bomb on August 15, 1998.
“We have all tried to deal with the impact in out own ways, but we remain physically and emotionally scarred. It affects every part of daily life.
“The sights are vividly replayed in flashbacks. Everything is a reminder of Alan and that awful day, in which so may lives ground to halt, never to be the same again.”
She added, “And we are just a few among so many. Yet our trauma is so callously facing exclusion from the criteria. This move has left us feeling of less importance instead of equal suffers or as I prefer to say, endurers.”