Victims of the Troubles shouldn’t have to relive their traumas via interviews with assessment providers, civil servants or anyone else, under a sick pay shake-up integral to welfare reform.
That’s according to Londonderry MP Mark Durkan who said Northern Ireland was a special case when it came to the proposed replacement of Disability Living Allowance (DLA) by Personal Independence Payments (PIP).
“Those of us who have concerns about the implementation of welfare reform in Northern Ireland have raised the particular needs of victims of the Troubles, and we raised this issue in the Talks on the Stormont House Agreement,” said Mr Durkan.
“They were given DLA awards – perhaps for life – because of their condition, and there was concern about the difficulties they would face in being subjected to reassessment and in perhaps having to retell their story, whether the trauma they carried was physical or mental,” he added.
“Victims of the Troubles are worried about having to repeat their stories to assessment providers, civil servants or whomever else.
“They are worried about making their experience the subject of a review argument. They do not want to be put through those difficulties and talk about such sensitive things.”
Speaking during a debate on the issue at Stormont, Mr Durkan said promises were made to victims in Northern Ireland and that victims units and victims commissioners have been charged with ensuring their needs are given due consideration.
“It would therefore seem strange if we were to completely confound the position of victims in relation to Personal Independence Payments and treat them in a way that differs from the particular provision that, understandably, has been made by the British government for people who have served in the armed services and whose disability stems from their experience and the injuries that they received in that context.
“If consideration is rightly given to people in that situation, it is important that we have bespoke consideration in Northern Ireland.”