Diane Dodds: Stark findings in victims survey

Upper Bann MLA Diane Dodds has said that the results of a survey into issues affecting victims and survivors raises issues which must be addressed by the Secretary of State, the Department of Health and the new Head of the Civil Service. The survey was carried out by the Commission for Victims and Survivors who gave evidence to the Executive Office Committee in the Assembly yesterday.

By Diane Dodds MLA

Upper Bann

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Mrs Dodds said, "The survey highlights a number of very stark findings. Whilst 88% agreed it was important to address the legacy of the troubles, 70% of those surveyed were opposed to the Government's amnesty proposal.

When I asked whether the Secretary of State had consulted the Victims Forum before making the proposals it was indicated that although they had met Brandon Lewis "it wasn't as productive as they had hoped". This is extremely disappointing and is something the Sectary of State must reflect on. If we are to truly have a victim-led process in Northern Ireland then the views of innocent victims must be of paramount importance. The Secretary of state needs to put this right.

Respondents also indicated that needs around health and emotional wellbeing were a top priority. The need for a specialised and dedicated regional trauma service for victims has been on the radar for years. It is important this is urgently addressed by the Health Minister and an indication given on the timeframe for it to be established.

The Committee also heard that the needs of victims could also be better addressed if there were “departmental champions” who would look at public policy through the lens of the needs of victims. This already exists for other marginalised groups in society and there is no reason it cannot be also provided for the innocent victims of violence who have suffered so much throughout the years. I look forward to meeting the new head of the Civil Service and discussing these issues with her."

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