WAVE Patron Colin Davidson welcomed guests to the Lansdowne Hotel for the launch of ‘Injured on that Day’. This is the third (and perhaps final) edition of this iconic book that has served as a lobbying tool in the campaign for an injured pension. Thirteen new stories have been added to the collection, plus a new chapter on the Campaign for Recognition.
Speaking at the launch, Colin paid tribute to the work of the WAVE Injured Group who campaigned for 13 years to get the pension into law. He spoke of his own experiences of getting to know some of the injured when he was working on ‘Silent Testimony’. People like Margaret Yeaman who lost her sight in a bomb blast in 1982, Jeff Smith, paralysed in landmine explosion in 1985, and Emma Anthony who suffered brain damage in car bomb in 1994.
Many of those in the book were at the launch along with their families, some leaving the house for the first time in many months due to the pandemic. Dolly Nash, a double amputee from Derry Londonderry, described the launch as one of the happiest days of her life. Dolly had a smile as wide as the River Foyle as she pushed her wheelchair onto the dance floor as Miami Showband survivor ‘Des Lea’ belted out Sweet Caroline.
Commenting on the event, Paul Bullick, Secretary to the Victims Payment Board, said ‘the perfect balance was struck between storytelling of the impact of the injuries to individuals and their loved ones along with real friends having some fun and laughter together’. This was certainly true of the campaign. Jennifer McNern, who lost both legs in a bomb in 1972, spoke of the dark humour amongst injured group members that kept them going with the chips were down. This was also picked up by friend of WAVE and local comedian Tim McGarry who interviewed members of the injured group.
Justice Minister Naomi Long and Lord Peter Hain both sent messages of support. Lord Hain, pointed out that without the WAVE Injured Group there would be no injured pension. Minister Long also acknowledged the work of the group, sharing how she accompanied a delegation to downing street when she was an MP in 2012.
Getting the injured pension into law has been a long long road, a point reinforced by injured campaigner Dr Paul Gallagher towards the end of the launch. Paul was paralysed in a shooting at his home in 1994, he delivered the speech at Stormont when the injured handed in the petition to Stormont. He later went on to study trauma at WAVE and has recently completed his PhD at Queens.
WAVE would like to acknowledge Andrew Smyth, not just for the excellent design of the book but also for tracking the book down when it got lost on transit. In true ‘will it won’t it’ style, Andrew got the book to the Stormont Hotel with minutes to spare.
WAVE would also like to acknowledge the presence of those with responsibility for delivering the pension, Capita, Department of Justice, Victims Payment Board and The Executive Office. Thanks also to the Commission for Victims and Survivors and the Victims and Survivors Service for coming along. It was pointed out that the book launch was the first time that all the players in pension delivery were together in the same room.
It is the hope of the WAVE Injured Group that the story of the injured pension is now better understood. Whilst it took a long time to get here, the pension is potentially transformative for many hundreds of injured people. Injured Group Facilitator Alan McBride brought the curtain down on the event by appealing to all departments and organisations present to work together to get the pension into the pockets of the injured.
For a copy of ‘Injured on that Day’, please get in touch with Alan McBride on firstname.lastname@example.org