Alliance Deputy Leader Eileen Bell has slammed the Government for appointing a Victims’ Commissioner as a political hand-out, rather than after due consultation with victims’ groups themselves. Speaking after hearing the Victims’ Commissioner would be appointed by the Secretary of State on Monday, she stated that the new Commission would now be undermined by a direct association with Unionism.
The North Down MLA stated:
“The idea that the appointment had to be ‘approved’ by the DUP will lead to justified allegations that the Commission is not truly independent and not victim-led. This appointment should have had nothing to do with sectarian carve-ups or party politics, it should have been determined by the victims’ groups themselves.
“I have been working my entire political career on victims’ issues, only to see the prospect of that work being unravelled as the Government turns it into yet another item on the list of sectarian hand-outs.
“Having worked with Mrs McDougall in the past I know she is very capable. But whatever she does, the whole Commission will now be tainted by a Unionist bias. How long will it take for the Government to understand that victims’ issues are far too important just to be handed out as a political sop to one side or the other? How long will it take to grasp that there can be no hierarchy of victimhood? How long will it take for everyone to have genuinely equitable access to justice on behalf of loved ones killed and injured?
“In making this appointment without due consultation with the people who really matter — the victims themselves — the Government has succeeded only in further removing confidence in the political process.”