Assembly plan for victims of Troubles unveiled

 

A £3 million sterling strategy was unveiled today to help all victims of the past 30 years of violence during the Troubles.

Called "Reshape, Rebuild, Achieve," it plans to deliver practical help and services to the victims of the troubles.

The strategy from the Stormont Assembly contains almost 50 actions spread across a range of areas including recognition, access and information, health, education and learning, housing and the development of business skills.

The scheme includes what is believed to be the first official attempt to define a victim. It does not differentiate between innocent civilian, paramilitary or member of the security forces.

It says a victim is "the surviving physically and psychologically injured of violent, conflict-related incidents and those close relatives or partners who care for them, along with those who mourn their dead".

Speaking in Craigavon, Co Armagh, First Minister Mr David Trimble said: "This strategy addresses the needs of those who have suffered over the last 30 years. It tackles areas which victims themselves have told us are important. We have listened to their identification of their needs".

Sinn Fein leader Mr Gerry Adams welcomed today's initiative. "We have argued for a very long time for equivalence and an end to any hierarchy of victimhood," he said in Dublin today.

Funding of £1.5 million from the Northern Ireland Executive over the next two years is matched by the same amount from the Northern Ireland Office.

A victims unit will fund a full-time support worker in four health board areas across the province.

Additional reporting PA