The Injured Campaign, 'Recognition For All'
Whilst the needs of injured people are diverse and many, and the ‘Recognition for All’ campaign does not claim to represent everyone who has been injured, we know that many of us need a wide range of services.
We want to assert our collective right to justice in the shape of appropriate financial recognition for injuries suffered by us during the years of conflict.
About the Campaign
Although most of us received compensation at the time of the incident, some did not receive anything, as they did not fulfil the criteria at the time. Others applied too late or simply where not aware that they were entitled to compensation.
Of those who received compensation, the universal opinion of the people we are in contact with is that the process they had to go through was adversarial, incomprehensive and painful.
To make matters worse, at the end of this process, the level of payment made was grossly insufficient and did not take into consideration a number of important factors. These include:
The long term deterioration in the effects of injury
In many people’s experience, with the onset of old age, (e.g physical deterioration in joints and muscles, the increasing prevalence of pain, scoliosis of the spine, etc)means that many of the injured suffer a progressive deterioration in their condition, involving additional disability, which was not taken into account in the original assessment of their condition for compensation purposes.
Compensation tariffs were worked out in relation to how long an individual was expected to live – with advances in medical science, people are living longer meaning original compensation payments fall short in terms of current life expectancy, resulting in awarded compensation amounts being exhausted and many of those injured now having to rely on state benefits.
Some people who suffered injury and were awarded compensation have lost a significant proportion of the compensation payout, because their ex-partners were able to claim money or property as part of a divorce settlement.
Specific circumstances emerging after the compensation award
Payments of compensation were made on the basis of a narrow assessment of the impact of the conflict and the injury, and failed to take into account circumstances that emerged subsequently.
For example, some injuries resulted in an inability by some to conceive children; in other cases, where payments were determined by earnings at the time, and the earning potential of those who subsequently progressed to third level education or employment, but were treated as unskilled because of their age or status at the time of the incident, was not taken into account.
At the time when compensation awards were made to many of those injured, there was a relatively primitive understanding of how the psychological effects of exposure to violence could cause long term and severe psychological injury. For example, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was only formally recognised in 1980, when the Troubles were already over a decade old.
Yet, many have suffered debilitating psychological symptoms that have prevented them from leading a full life, and that have placed a huge burden on them and their families, and entailed a lifetime of living on medication, in some cases being confined to their homes, or being unable to go to certain places or do certain things. Yet these are relatively recent understandings. Compensation awarded in the first two decades of the Troubles takes little or no account of the degree of psychological injury sustained.
Not only were compensation payments insufficient to meet the needs of injured people, but the treatment of those seeking compensation was shameful, as Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, Marion Gibson and Professor Desmond Greer point out in theirReport of the Review of Criminal Injuries Compensation in Northern Ireland, (Bloomfield, Gibson and Greer 1999).
In some at least of these cases, what came across very strongly was a profound sense of powerlessness, of being driven along, at a time of psychological trauma, by an impersonal machine, moving mysteriously towards an unpredictable end.(Bloomfield, Gibson and Greer 1999: p 201)
It is beyond argument that compensation awarded thirty or more years ago, in conformity with the law as it stood at the time, can now be seen to be inadequate both in absolute terms and even by comparison with awards at a more generous level made at later times.
The recent Eames Bradley Report of the Consultative Group on the Past proposed financial compensation for the relatives of those killed in the conflict. We would point out that this proposal, together with the other proposals in that report have the effect of once again sidelining those injured in the conflict, compounding our sense of being ignored and isolated.
On behalf of ourselves, and on behalf of others who have been injured and do not yet have a voice, we ask that this unjust situation is addressed immediately. What is required is a comprehensive assessment of the needs of injured people. Many of us believe that any payments made in the future should be linked to need and should also compensate us for the way in which we were treated in the past when we attempted to claim compensation.
The urgency of this matter is great. For many injured people time is running out, and for some it is already too late. For those that survive and remain in need, we require an immediate interim payment to be made, determined by the level of disability and trauma experienced by each individual.