Prime Minister should act to ensure GB victims of ‘the Troubles’ get same access to services as those in Northern Ireland
March 4, 2014 | Nick Taylor
The Foundation for Peace is calling on the Prime Minister David Cameron to intervene to save a unique programme that helps victims of terrorism and political violence of the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles.’
Victims and survivors groups outside Northern Ireland are not eligible for any funding and are reliant on public generosity and grants from the likes of the national lottery. Yet, in Northern Ireland, groups are able to finance their activities from European and Government funding.
GB victims’ account for 17% of people who died, over 2000 injured and 350,000 estimated to have served in the armed forces during the conflict.
The Northern Ireland Office is refusing to consider the issue saying it is not their responsibility.
The matter has been continually raised with Downing Street and in the latest written reply the Foundation has seen, from the Prime Minister, he has suggested the charity, with 19 years of experience, should search internet websites for possible funds.
Nick Taylor, Foundation Chief Executive, describes the reply as ‘astonishing’ and is challenging the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Theresa Villiers, to make a statement in the House of Commons justifying why GB victims are treated differently from Northern Ireland victims: “The Northern Ireland conflict affected thousands of people from across Great Britain who are struggling to recover and cope with the consequences.
“It is politically, ethically and morally unacceptable that our organisation, established to support those hurt, bereaved or affected to recover and cope should be treated differently just because we are based in England.
“Treatment and funding should be equitable for people and organisations regardless of geographical jurisdiction and devolved Government.”
The letter from the Prime Minister has come as a blow, as the service that only costs £150k to fund per annum and has been operating for 12 years will end on 30 April 2014 if no further funds are found with three specialist posts at risk of redundancy.
Colin Parry, charity founder (father of 12-year-old Tim who along with three-year-old Jonathan Ball was killed by the IRA in 1993) said: “David Cameron’s response is short-sighted as it fails to recognise a political and policy issue that needs to be sorted out.
“ The charity has nearly 20 years of experience in fund raising so doesn’t need to be told to search for grants on the internet. “What is needed is political responsibility and accountability and the Prime Minister should personally intervene to ensure the Northern Ireland Office acts to guarantee British victims and survivors are treated equitably alongside people from Northern Ireland.”
The charity is meeting with cross-party political representatives over the next couple of days with a view to the matter being raised in the House of Commons and is visiting Stormont, Belfast on Tuesday to discuss its case for funding with senior officials.