Thirteen new members have been announced for the Victims and Survivors Forum, bringing the total membership to 23.
Pictured L-R Back Row: Kathryn Johnston, Don Mackay, Hazel Deeney, Jeremy Adams, Jack Nicholl, Sam Wilson, Emmett McConomy
Pictured L-R Front Row: Carmel Rooney, Minty Thompson, Commissioner Judith Thompson, Mina Jadeja, Alan Brecknell, Denise Mullen, Robert McClenaghan
The Commissioner for Victims and Survivors, Judith Thompson, reflected on the crucial role they and their fellow Forum members will play. One of the priorities is to take part in consultations on legislation to deliver legacy bodies set out in the Stormont House Agreement.
The Commissioner is inviting the Secretary of State to begin consultations on the draft legislation with the Forum and with victims groups. She has also asked the Secretary of State to consider the appointment of a Shadow Director to the Historical Investigations Unit (HIU) as soon as broad agreement on the legislation is achieved.
This would enable victims and survivors to be engaged immediately in designing communication and reporting processes for the HIU which are as victim-centred as possible. It would also be a sign of good faith and intent in the delivery of the institutions that have been promised.
The new members include for the first time a Great Britain based victim, Mina Jadeja, who was injured in the 1983 Harrods bomb. This represents a significant development, enabling the Forum to reflect the needs and experiences of victims and survivors outside Northern Ireland.
“It is essential that the individuals in the Forum continue to reflect the complexity and reality of the past conflict,” the Commissioner said.
“The experiences of our Forum members, past and present, are diverse but what unites them is the belief that the events of the past must not happen again. The Victims and Survivors Forum is about leadership at a civic level – providing direction on issues that belong to individual victims and survivors, not to politicians. The Forum works on the principle that ‘there should be nothing about us without us’, so the views and experiences of victims and survivors are at the heart of policy decisions that affect them.”
“The priorities for the Forum will continue to focus on measures for dealing with the past, arrangements for a pension for those severely injured, and continuing to ensure excellent service provision throughout the Victims and Survivors Service and funded groups.”
Forum members are drawn from a wider panel of victims and survivors who also assist the Commission on issues relating to victims. The new members will formally begin their roles in April and will remain until 2019.