Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson has described her determination to deal with issues on behalf of victims and find solutions to the challenges they face.
I am committed to what I set out to achieve - dealing with the issues of victims and finding solutions. Those issues are not going away and neither am I.Judith Thompson, CVSNI
In a wide-ranging interview by the Belfast Telegraph’s political correspondent Noel McAdam published today, she was asked for her views on a number of issues.
The Commissioner said that in the pre-election period, it is important that politicians consider the individuals and families who have lost a loved one during the conflict.
“Victims and survivors can become used as a political football and that can create discord when what we all need to be focused on is solutions,” the Commissioner said.
“I agree with what a lot of the victims have said about politicians over the years - that they have brought them in for meetings and listened to them, but then all they are really offered is tea, sympathy and not a great deal else.”
In relation to the Stormont House Agreement, the Commissioner described her disappointment at the lack of progress:
“The most frustrating aspect of all of this is that while we are in the run-up to an election there are proposals including the Historical Inquiries Unit (HIU) which have been sitting on the table with the Government for the last 18 months. We were told constantly that it was being worked on. But it would appear now that it hasn't been. It is shocking to me that there has been no progress on this when progress was most certainly possible. We have had inspiring leadership from groups like WAVE, but victims have been let down.”
When asked about her views on politicians and their support for victims’ issues, the Commissioner said that collaborative working could achieve progress:
"…Our politicians… have a difficult job to do and are often being criticised. But it is only by working collaboratively that they can make progress on all of this. I think fundamentally this is an issue which is far beyond a political football.”
“What is required is for them to implement the (Stormont House) agreement that they all signed up to. I listen to the debate, and behind what is being said all the time is the need for a new framework, which we already have in the HIU and so on. I would remind politicians that nearly one in three people in Northern Ireland have actually had the experience of being traumatised by bereavement or being harmed - and that represents a lot of voters.”
The full interview can be accessed via this link.