Maginness: Victims and Survivors Service not for purpose
The North Belfast MLA, speaking at the SDLP’s Annual Conference 2014, said OFMDFM had presided over widespread failure of victims and survivors:
“The assessment of the Victims’ and Survivors’ Service as “not fit for purpose” and “potential re-traumatisation” is damning, tragic and accurate.
“It is the assessment of former Victims Commissioner Kathryn Stone and I share that assessment. I believe it is accurate and I believe the fact that it is true is an absolute disgrace.
“Victims have told me at first-hand how they are traumatized again and again.
“They tell me the indignity of dealing with VSS and how it feels like they are being forced to beg for even the most basic levels of assistance. I have heard how a man shot multiple times by paramilitaries has been denied assistance. I have heard first-hand from a man whose son was murdered by paramilitaries and how he has been penalised for trying to help other victims
“The stories I have heard, and the people I have spoken to, would break your heart. They are victims in the truest sense of the word, yet when they have engaged with the body that was set up to help them. They have come away traumatised, humiliated, frustrated and ashamed.
“Katharyn Stone, before she left office, carried out a review into VSS which drew up 55 recommendations into the service that would make it fit for purpose. These recommendations must be implemented now by OFMDFM. Victims of the troubles must be given all the support they need. They are living with their injuries and memories every day. They must not be forgotten and they must not have to deal with a support organisation that is not fit for purpose.
“We as a society, as a community, will be judged by how we treat victims of the troubles. They deserve better. We demand better.”