Thousands of victims and survivors of the North’s “Troubles” are being left “out of pocket and unsupported” because of a new funding crisis.
It’s emerged that the Stormont run Victims and Survivors Service (VSS) has reduced its services to help victims of the conflict and their families.
Derry-based human rights group, the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) - which works with scores of victims and their families - has branded the situation “scandalous”.
It’s understood a number of schemes provided by the VSS - including respite breaks and education and training - have been deferred due to budget cutbacks.
Paul O’Connor, of the PFC, says many families are “devastated” at the move.
He added: “It’s all the more shameful given that David Cameron can allocate billions of pounds to his government’s defence programme but, at the same time, can’t find the money to fund a programme aimed at assisting victims and survivors of the conflict.
“It’s an appalling and scandalous manner in which to treat people.”
Derry woman Marie Toland, whose husband John was murdered by loyalist paramilitaries in 1976, described the cutbacks as “shocking”.
“It once again underlines the reality that we are the forgotten people of the Troubles,” said the mother-of-seven.
“I have absolutely no confidence in the system as it currently stands. It seems that, once again, victims and survivors don’t matter.”
The VSS was established in 2012 as an “arm’s length” body of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) at Stormont.
It is responsible for administering OFMDFM funding set aside specifically for victims and survivors.
See Friday’s ‘Journal’ for more.