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SERVICES 
Monday, 6 August, 2001, 15:04 GMT 16:04 UK
Strategy to help Troubles victims
Strategy is aimed at developing services for victims
Strategy is aimed at developing services for victims
The assembly is seeking the views of victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles on how they can be better helped by the government.

The first and deputy first ministers' office has begun a three-month consultation process and has sent its Document on a Victims Strategy to interested parties.

It includes a 27-point 'draft action plan'.

Among the proposals are a review emergency payments to people re-housed as a result of intimidation and a project where victims are interviewed and their feelings and memories recorded.

Fergus Devitt:
Fergus Devitt: "Specific measure for victims"

Fergus Devitt, of the assembly's victims unit, said the devolved administrations had a duty to ensure that funds set aside for victims were properly administered.

"It is important to recognise that under the Peace II European Programme there is a specific measure for victims which will put approximately 6.7m aside that victims and victims groups can access," he said.

"I think it is important that under the devolved administration we also look at how services and service provisions can be improved."

The nationalist and unionist ministers jointly responsible for the victims issue in the assembly, SDLP minister Denis Haughey and Ulster Unionist minister Dermot Nesbitt, said their strategy aimed to deliver "effective, high quality services to victims". The document is being launched at a time when political uncertainty has thrown the work of the assembly into doubt.

Ulster Unionist assembly junior minister
Dermot Nesbitt: "Wide range of views are being sought"

The British and Irish Governments have asked the province's political parties to respond by Monday evening to their package of proposals aimed at breaking the political impasse over the implementation of the Good Friday Agreement peace accord.

However, none of the pro-Agreement parties have yet indicated whether they intend to accept the rescue package on policing, demilitarisation, paramilitary decommissioning and the stability of the political institutions.

Mr Haughey and Mr Nesbitt said they were seeking the views of all individual victims, victims' groups and other interested parties on how the assembly could meet the needs of those who have suffered as a result of the conflict of the last 30 years.

"One of the most important commitments to victims in the Programme for Government is to put in place a cross-departmental strategy which will contain relevant targets and describe how exactly the devolved administration will attempt to tackle this important area of work," Mr Haughey said.

"I would urge everyone with an interest in this area to read the consultation document carefully, and to express their views on the many issues in and around the delivery of services to victims of the troubles."

'Easy access'

Mr Nesbitt said the assembly wanted to ensure that services provided for victims reflected their particular needs and that they were easily accessible to all victims.

"We also want to promote and facilitate an increase in the standard of services being provided to victims and to seek to address any gaps in the provision of those services.

"To make this consultation truly representative, it is vital that we have the widest possible range of responses."

The consultation period will last from 7 August to 9 November 2001. It is planned that the strategy will be published and in place around the end of 2001 and will cover the period until 2004.

See also:

22 Feb 01 | Northern Ireland
Cash boost for victims of Troubles
06 Mar 00 | Northern Ireland
Victim support service launched
12 Sep 00 | Northern Ireland
Minister meets bomb victim families
22 Jun 98 | Latest News
Prince meets victims of terrorism
15 Aug 00 | Northern Ireland
Ongoing pain of Omagh victims
19 May 00 | Northern Ireland
Search for IRA victims to end
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