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Thursday, 11 April, 2002, 13:38 GMT 14:38 UK
Executive unveils victims' package
A 3m strategy to help victims of the Troubles has been launched by Northern Ireland's first and deputy first ministers.

The strategy includes what is thought to be the first official attempt to define a victim.

A catch-all definition contained in the plan avoids any political categorising of victims.

It also contains 50 pledges of action intended to provide practical help and services to victims of the Troubles.

Acknowledging and meeting the needs of victims can be a complex process

Mark Durkan
Deputy first minister

The strategy defines victims as those physically or psychologically injured by violent conflict related incidents, along with their close relatives and partners and those who mourn people killed during the Troubles.

A consultation process was launched by the Northern Ireland Assembly last year seeking the views of victims on how they could be better helped by the government.

Equally split

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

The consultation period ended in November and it is proposed that the strategy will cover the period until 2004.

David Trimble
David Trimble: "Increase awareness"

The cost of the initiative, entitled 'Reshape, Rebuild, Achieve', will be equally split between the executive and the Northern Ireland Office.

Speaking at the launch in Craigavon, County Armagh, First Minister David Trimble said the strategy addressed the needs of those who have suffered in the last 30 years.

"It tackles areas which victims themselves have told us are important. We have listened to their identification of their needs," he said.

"The strategy aims to include the promotion of an improved standard of services to victims, increase awareness in government and the wider public sector of their needs and secure implementation of policies and practices to meet those needs."

'Genuine reconciliation'

Deputy First Minister Mark Durkan said greater recognition should be given to victims and they should be treated "sensitively with dignity and respect".

He was speaking at an information morning for the Northern Ireland Memorial Fund Londonderry, which coincided with the launch of the victims' strategy.

Mr Durkan said: "Acknowledging and meeting the needs of victims can be a complex process, but it is an issue that the executive must be prepared to address if we are to achieve genuine reconciliation."

He added: "Today, we are also launching a new strategy setting out how, across a range of departments, progress can be made on a variety of issues that we hope will make a positive difference to the lives of victims.

"Funding is a key issue which will impact directly on the implementation and delivery of the strategy and we have allocated an additional 1.5m over the next two years, which has been matched by the same amount from the NIO."

BBC NI's Mark Devenport:
"Two separate events linked to the victims' strategy are taking place"
BBC NI's Mark Simpson:
"It is four years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement"
See also:

29 Mar 02 | Europe
Ceremony remembers NI victims
22 Feb 01 | Northern Ireland
Cash boost for victims of Troubles
06 Aug 01 | Northern Ireland
Strategy to help Troubles victims
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