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The Long, Long Road

29th May 2020

Friday 29 May 2020 should have been a day of celebration for injured victims of the ‘Troubles’ as applications for the Injured Payment Scheme was to go live across Northern Ireland.
Instead, those who suffered appalling, life limiting, injuries, through no fault of their own, are left with the very real prospect of taking The Executive Office, and Ministers Foster and O’Neill to Court, to get what they are legally and morally entitled to.

This short video is dedicated to the amazing men and women of the WAVE Injured Group, who against all odds got the Injured Payment Scheme over the line, only to be let down by those in power.

Their journey begins in the aftermath of the Eames Bradley Consultation when very little attention was given to the needs of the Injured. Indeed, pioneering campaigner the late Hugh Rowan, who was paralysed from the neck down, appealed to the Consultative Group at a public meeting in Ballymena ‘not to be forgotten’.

Alan McBride was with Hugh that night in 2009, holding the microphone as he posed his question. Sadly, Hugh died a short time later from pneumonia which he contracted while living in an old people’s home. He was in his early sixties, but had to live there because his injuries had deteriorated considerably and his home was no longer judged to be suitable for his needs.

Most people have no idea what it’s like to live with a debilitating injury. To wake up each morning in a body that doesn’t work, like Peter Heathwood, paralysed in a gun attack on his home in 1979 or Mark Kelly who lost his legs in a bomb attack in 1976. Or in the case of Margaret Yeaman, never being able to see your grandchildren because she was blinded in a bomb 1985. Margaret talks of the glass splinters still coming out of her face some thirty-five years later.

These are just a few of the remarkable men and women involved in the campaign. Collectively they have travelled all over Northern Ireland gathering signatures on a petition and lobbying politicians at Stormont, Westminster and The Dáil. They have risen to every challenge that has been put in front of them. At times, when it would have been easier to throw in the towel, yet they kept going because they had ‘right’ on their side, and the prize was worth fighting for.

That prize was a little bit of financial independence that would see them through their senior years. A prize they believed had been achieved in July 2019 when the Injured Payment was given Royal Assent at Westminster, finally becoming law on the 31 January this year.

It remains to be seen what will happen next, but the WAVE Injured Group will never give up, even though this latest chapter has revealed an uncomfortable truth, that those tasked with implementing the law don’t care enough to see it over the line.