18 September 2023

10% of ROI Population are Troubles Victims, Survey Finds

Approximately 1 in 10 people in the Republic of Ireland could define themselves a victim of the Troubles, a report carried out on behalf of the Commission for Victims and Survivors in Northern Ireland has found.

Working with Social Market Research (SMR), the Commission sought to replicate some of the questions asked in a similar survey carried out in conjunction with LucidTalk in Northern Ireland in 2021.

Speaking of the survey, NI Victims’ Commissioner, Ian Jeffers said “my office was set up in the years after the Belfast Good Friday Agreement to help address the needs of those most affected by conflict.

“In the earlier years of its formation, most of the focus and efforts were concentrated in Northern Ireland itself. But hurt, loss, grief and the many other ways in which conflict has affected people’s lives knows no borders and so over the years, our work has evolved to give greater consideration to those victims and survivors outside Northern Ireland.

“This is the first time we’ve been able to gather some concrete data which I hope gives us the evidence base we need when engaging with relevant bodies in the south on how we can put measures in place to improve lives of people there who still bear the impacts of the Troubles today.”

The findings show that 4% of Ireland’s population say they have been bereaved as a result of a Troubles, 7% say their mental health has been affected by a Troubles/Conflict related incident and 7% say they have been present at, or witnessed, a conflict-related incident.

Notably, of those who answered that their mental or physical health has been affected by the Troubles, 62% continue to be affected to this day.

The survey also found that 82% of the population felt it was important to address the impact the Troubles have had within the Republic of Ireland and 79% believed that victims there should have the same access to services and support as those in Northern Ireland. When asked specifically about the Troubles Permanent Disablement Payment Scheme, brought into place by the UK government and accessible primarily to victims and survivors in GB and Northern Ireland, 75% of Ireland’s population were in support of the Government of Ireland implementing a similar scheme for the severely injured.

Following its Northern Ireland survey in 2021 where 61% of NI’s population felt Troubles-teaching should be compulsory at some stage within the formal education system, the Commission has been looking at ways in which learning from and about the past can help in the journey of reconciliation.

When asked a similar question in this recent survey, 65% of respondents in ROI also felt this learning should be compulsory.

“As a father myself, I am determined to do my bit to grow stronger relationships across these islands so that future generations see even greater reconciliation,” continues Jeffers. “Crucial to that is a foundation of stable, lasting peace.”

In looking to the future, the Commissioner said “the next step for us will be to look at how we share these findings in ROI so that they have a real impact on policies and decision-making for victims and survivors there.

“It comes at a critical time for victims and survivors as the Northern Ireland Troubles (Legacy and Reconciliation) Bill proceeds from the UK Parliament to Royal Assent.

“From that point on, a fundamentally flawed Bill becomes law and so we all have a role to play in helping shape its outworkings to actually delver something of benefit for victims.

“I know that many people can be unwilling to wear the label of victim and that’s fine. But the figures in this survey can start to give us an idea of the extent of lives affected and whether we are meeting their needs. As we move into the lifetime of Northern Ireland’s new Strategy for Victims and Survivors, that is the part we need to focus on. If your mental health has been affected, if you lost a loved one, if you’re living with a long-term injury for example – I want to help make sure your needs are being represented to policy makers, regardless of geography.”

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