Confirming her acceptance of re-appointment as Commissioner for Victims and Survivors, Judith Thompson has set out her agenda to address what she acknowledges will continue to be difficult and contested issues facing victims and survivors of the Troubles.
“The first priority is to ensure a strategy is in place in order to safeguard the current funding package of almost £14m to meet the health and wellbeing needs of those impacted by the Troubles, by ensuring that the current 2009-2019 NI Government Strategy for Victims and Survivors is extended.
“Following this I will work closely with partners and stakeholders to deliver advice on a new Strategy for victims and survivors of the conflict post-2021.
“Over the last four years, I have been privileged to meet with hundreds of individuals and groups across the community who have suffered as a result of the troubles and fought long and hard for truth, justice, acknowledgment of harm caused and restitution. These include many who suffered as a consequence of serving as police officers or members of the armed services.
“I have also advocated for the need to address the serious mental health issues we face in Northern Ireland by establishing a Regional Trauma Network which will effectively focus new resources on families and communities who continue to be affected by the conflict.
“The new strategy for victims and survivors also needs to take account of gender inequality issues, including for example the manner in which many widows were dealt with in relation to compensation.
“The current arrangements have enabled us to address some of those needs and for my office to conduct various pieces of vital research and make policy recommendations to government on victims’ issues.
“Now government needs to progress the work done so far and focus on a future where we start to deal seriously with the past.
“To help me in the task of advising government, in the coming weeks I will be commencing the process to replenish the Victims and Survivors Forum and will be seeking applications from those whose collective experiences represent the breadth of victims’ and survivors.
“Finally I would like to thank all of those who have engaged with me, written to me and trusted me with their stories. I promise to continue to make their voices heard and most importantly to listen.”
The Commissioner, Judith Thompson has been re-appointed to 31st August 2020.