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Commissioner right to highlight victims' funding issues

22 June 2006

DUP Member of the European Parliament, Jim Allister QC has welcomed the recent statement from the Victims Commissioner, Bertha McDougall in which she warned that funding for victims would be dramatically reduced by 2007 and it was imperative to establish a service which was adequately funded and strategically planned. The DUP MEP went on to claim that the actions of central government in dealing with victims stood in stark contrast to the way in which prisoners groups received funding and support. Mr. Allister echoed the commissioner’s call for a more joined-up approach to victims-related issues and called upon central government to mainstream the funding of the sector into its own centralised funding priorities.

Jim Allister said:

“It is a matter of public record that a higher level of funding has been granted to those groups which represent the interests of paramilitary prisoners, than those who are actively serving the needs of the innocent victims of terrorism in our country. This obscene situation is reflected in the fact that the prisoners groups are strong, active, strategically well-co-ordinated and well-funded, whereas the victims sector, despite the noble efforts of individual organisations such as MAST, FAIR and West Tyrone Voice, is disjointed and lacking in strategic co-ordination. Bertha McDougal is to be praised for highlighting this reality.

It is clear that for too long the victims sector has been sidelined and ignored by central government. In their headlong rush to embrace thugs and criminals, successive governments looked on victims as nothing more than an embarrassing inconvenience. This cannot be allowed to continue. The government has a moral responsibility to victims of terrorism – those groups working with them deserve funding that is fair and reflective of the excellent work they are engaged in”, said the DUP MEP.

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