Page last updated at 15:30 GMT, Tuesday, 15 September 2009 16:30 UK

DUP seek victim definition change

Jeffrey Donaldson
Jeffrey Donaldson intends to bring a private members bill

The DUP has announced plans for an assembly bill which would change the definition of a victim.

The party said the bill is intended to ensure that the perpetrators of violence during the Troubles are not defined as victims.

The Victims and Survivors (NI) Order makes no distinction between paramilitaries, who were killed or injured, and other victims.

Sinn Fein said there should be "no hierarchy of victims."

Launching a public consultation on the proposed bill DUP assembly member Jeffrey Donaldson said the party was seeking to narrow the scope of the definition of a victim.

"It is about how we deal with the past, and what we are not prepared to countenance is a rewriting of the Troubles where the perpetrators, whoever they are, who carried out acts of terrorism are placed on a par with the thousands of people they killed and maimed.

"I want to see the process moving on and a Northern Ireland that puts the past behind it but in seeking to deal with the past, it is important we clearly understand that there was wrongdoing and that wrongdoing is recognised."


However, Sinn Fein MLA Francie Molloy described the DUP proposals as "unacceptable".

"The current classification came about after years of consultation and painstaking campaigning by victims' organisations with the support of Sinn Fein," Mr Molloy said.

"Given the universal view on this issue amongst those groups representing victims of British state violence I would fully expect the SDLP to join with us in blocking this offensive electioneering by the DUP."

SDLP assembly member Alex Attwood said he was "totally unsupportive" of the plan.

"The feelings and circumstances of those who have lost relatives need to be remembered, including where family members were misguided, wrong or acting illegally," he said.

A statement from the Commission for Victims and Survivors said it was "mindful of the contested nature of the definition" set out in the 2006 Order.

"The commission will facilitate discussion on the definition by the new victims and survivors forum later this month, but will remind forum members that the power to change the definition rests with our politicians," it said.

Victims are defined under the Victims and Survivors (Northern Ireland) Order 2006 as:

• Someone who has been physically or psychologically injured as a result of a conflict-related incident

• Someone who provides a substantial amount of care on a regular basis for a person who has been physically or psychologically injured as a result of a conflict-related incident

• Someone who has been bereaved as a result of a conflict-related incident

The DUP proposal would mean that relatives of republican and loyalist paramilitaries killed in the conflict would be banned from seeking compensation.

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