Memorandum submitted by the Northern Ireland
The Northern Ireland Memorial Fund is an independent
charity that seeks to promote peace and reconciliation by ensuring
that those who have suffered as a result of the `Troubles' in
Northern Ireland are remembered, by providing them with help and
support in a practical and meaningful way.
The British Government
On 24 October 1997 the then Secretary of State
for Northern Ireland, Dr Marjorie Mowlam MP, established a commission
"to look at possible ways to recognise the pain and suffering
felt by victims of violence arising from the troubles of the last
30 years, including those who have died or been injured in service
of the community". On 19 November 1997 she wrote to Sir Kenneth
Bloomfield with the following terms of reference: "to lead
the commission and to examine the feasibility of providing greater
recognition for those who have become victims in the last 30 years
as a consequence of events in Northern Ireland, recognising that
those events have also had appalling repercussions for many people
not living in Northern Ireland". Sir Kenneth published his
report entitled We Will Remember Them in May 1998. His report
contained 20 recommendations, focused on ways of acknowledging
and addressing the needs of those who had become victims.
The Secretary of State accepted the recommendations
in Sir Kenneth's report and appointed the Right Honourable Adam
Ingram JP MP as Minister for Victims. In June 1998 the newly appointed
Minister for Victims set up the Victims Liaison Unit to begin
the process of implementing the recommendations in Sir Kenneth's
report. One of those recommendations was related to the creation
of a fund to assist, in particular, children and young people
affected by the death or injury of a parent. It became apparentfollowing
consultations with many victims and survivorsthat such
a fund should cover the wider needs of victims and survivors,
and be a living memorial to those who have suffered and continue
to suffer. Hence the Minister implemented this recommendation
and established a Memorial Fund that would address a wide range
of the problems faced by many victims and survivors.
The Minister approached fourteen individuals
to independently administer the Northern Ireland Memorial Fund.
The Fund was registered a company limited by guarantee (NI 36167)
and awarded charitable status by the Inland Revenue on 18 May
1999 (Ref XR31751). The Government made an initial contribution
of £1 million to start the Fund, and has since contributed
a further £5.3 million.
The Northern Ireland Assembly
The Northern Ireland Executive has also recognised
that "among the most vulnerable individuals in society are
the victims of our prolonged conflict, along with those who care
for them and the relatives of all victims, whether surviving or
dead". In its Programme for Government, the Executive has
stated that "in seeking to create a new future, and as an
important part of addressing, human rights, it is important that
special attention is paid to the needs of those who have been
most directly affected by the violence of the last 30 years. The
needs of victims and survivors are complex, ranging from coping
with serious injury through to physical and emotional trauma,
along with dealing with often adverse economic to circumstances."
This commitment and the resulting plan of action incorporated
in the Programme for Government was co-ordinated by the Victims
Unit located in the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First
Minister (OFM/DFM). Following very positive discussions between
the Fund and OFM/DFM on how the Fund might assist and complement
the Programme of Government, they allocated approximately £700,000
over a three year period.
Republic of Ireland Government
The Taoiseach made a commitment back in 1999
when the Northern Ireland Memorial Fund was first established
that the Irish Government recognised the important role of the
NIMF and would be making a substantial financial contribution
in due course.
Following the set up of the Remembrance Commission
in the Republic of Ireland Government the NIMF received a one-off
1.25 million to assist with the vital work of the
2. AIMS AND
The mission of the Northern Ireland Memorial
Fund is to be the primary charity dedicated to introducing and
sustaining programmes that support those who have suffered as
a result of the "Troubles" in Northern Ireland, and
to raising funds for that purpose.
Aims and Objectives
To acknowledge and address the suffering
of victims and survivors as identified by both the Good Friday
Agreement and the report of the Northern Ireland Victims Commissioner,
Sir Kenneth Bloomfield.
To promote peace and reconciliation
by demonstrating recognition of the needs of victims and survivors
as an important part of the healing process in Northern Ireland.
To understand the very specific needs
of victims and survivors, identify the gaps in current provision,
and develop and introduce measures that address those needs in
a practical and meaningful way.
To relieve some of the worry and
pressure facing those who continue to experience financial or
other difficulties as a result of shortfalls in the compensation
process, or their personal experiences.
To help victims and survivors to
build a better future for themselves by providing them with support
which alleviates immediate needs.
To reach those whose needs have not
been previously embraced or have not received help from existing
support groups and organisations working with victims and survivors.
To develop an international network
of individuals and organisations to provide funding to support
and sustain the work of the Northern Ireland Memorial Fund.
To raise awareness of the needs of
victims and survivors so as to provide the wider community with
the opportunity to support and contribute to the development of
initiatives that will help those who have suffered and continue
to suffer as a consequence of the conflict in Northern Ierland.
To promote reconciliation between
both sides of the community.
3. EXTENT OF
The Directors initially spent several months
researching and identifying the extent of the problems facing
victims and survivors. Consultation and engagement with victims,
survivors and support groups was an important part of this process,
as the process itself demonstrated their suffering was at last
being recognised. This was a vitally important exercise, as information
and research indicating the likely extent of the problem, or the
level of services currently available to victims and survivors,
was neither documented nor readily available. Statistical research
had been carried out by the Cost of the Troubles Study (COTTS).
It revealed that by 3 December 1997, 3,585 people had been killed
in Northern Ireland since 1969. Further analysis of these deaths
revealed the following:
(a) The dead were predominantly male (91%)
(b) They were predominantly within age groups
with a considerable expectation of further life (37% under 24,
53% under 29, 74% under 39).
(c) 53% of the dead were civilians with no
affiliation to any security force or paramilitary organisation.
A further 29% were serving members of the security forces (15%
from outside Northern Ireland and 14% from locally-recruited Royal
Ulster Constabulary, Ulster Defence Regiment or Royal Irish Regiment,
including almost 300 police officers); 13% of the dead were Republican
paramilitaries, and just over 3% Loyalist paramilitaries.
(d) The death rate has been higher within
the Roman Catholic than the Protestant population (2.5 per 1,000
for the Roman Catholic population and 1.9 per 1,000 for the Protestant
There have, unfortunately, been further deaths
since December 1997, bringing the death toll to nearly 3,700.
Much more difficult to determine are the living
causalities of the past thirty years of conflict. These are familiesmothers,
fathers, wives, husbands, sons, daughters, brothers, sistersof
up to 3,700 people who last their lives. The possible permutations
do not easily facilitate an accurate calculation. There are also
those who were injured, both physically and psychologically, and
their families. Work by COTTS and others suggests that there have
been over forty thousand injured. This is a frightening statistic
in Northern Ireland of only 1.6 million people.
Against the background of these statistics,
and building upon the work already carried out by both Sir Kenneth
Bloomfield and the Victims' Liaison Unit, the Directors of the
Fund met with victims, survivors and groups supporting them to
hear at first hand the problems faced by individuals and their
families. These meetings were often emotional, as many victims
and survivors are only now coming forward and only now beginning
the process of confronting their grief. Following these meetings
and subsequent discussions, the Directors agreed to focus the
Fund's initial response in five distinct areas, as follows.
Pain Relief and Respite Care
Many individuals have suffered horrendous physical,
psychological and emotional injuries. These have not only affected
their own quality of life and standard of living, but also that
of their families. Many family members are now full-time Carers,
devoted to looking after loved ones. Careers have been sacrificed
and dreams have been dashed. For the injured, it can be a daily
battle to overcome their pain, discomfort or disability, and many
face a life-long struggle to come to terms with the physical and
emotional trauma. There are specific needs for pain relief and
respite care that can be addressed through a better understanding
and interpretation of the needs of victims, and which are not
being addressed through conventional health and social services
Trauma and Counselling
As the peace process develops, more and more
victims and survivors are coming forward to seek help for the
very first time. Many have never spoken of their experiences,
and many have been unable to work through their trauma. In some
cases whole families have not spoken about incidents that happened
as long as ten or twenty years ago, often involving the death
of a family member. Support groups are reporting an increase in
referrals for counselling, mainly from new members. There is much
healing to be done and a tremendous need for trauma counselling
that will be focused on the very specific needs of victims and
Of those killed, 91% were male. In many cases
they were husbands and fathers, and often the sole providers for
their families. Many widows, widowers and grandparents were left
with the responsibility of providing for children as best they
could. Many faced and continue to face financial difficulties,
often as a result of shortfalls in the compensation process, which
have compounded over the years. Many continue to struggle to maintain
a very basic standard of living for themselves and their children.
This legacy of hardship is not just a symptom of inadequacies
in the social services or compensation system. It is compounded
by the unique position of victims, who through basic pride or
desire to remain anonymous for reasons of personal security or
special needs cannot access the help they require.
Training and Education
Children and young people have been particularly
affected. The loss of a parent, brother or sister; the loss of
a close family member or other significant influence in their
lives; a personal injury or traumatic experience have often resulted
in serious disruption to their education. Opportunities have been
missed and many, through no fault of their own, have under-achieved
academically or been unable to pursue their education or careers
for financial or physiological reasons. Adults also have been
forced to abandon their chosen career because of psychological
or physical injury. There is a need to provide special help to
enable these people to access the opportunities available to realise
their legitimate ambitions.
Many community groups have developed to support
victims and survivors. These groups will grow, develop and continue
to provide support to victims and survivors into the twenty-first
century. The Memorial Fund will act to complement the work of
these groups, and where we can to assist them to provide recognition
to victims and survivors. Simple recognition of their needs, and
acknowledgement of their hurt is an issue that comes through as
a priority time and time again. The Fund will continue to liaise
regularly with support groups to identify needs and respond positively
where possible. We will help give a voice to the needs of victims
Whilst many victims and survivors of the conflict
receive emotional help and support from victims groups within
their communities there is very little work going on in the area
of reconciliation. The Fund feels this is a very important part
of the healing process and want to progress this work further.
With the aim of providing victims and survivors
with the recognition and support they deserve, the Directors of
the Fund have commenced the process of introducing and developing
measures aimed at providing help and support at a practical and
meaningful level. This includes programmes aimed at providing
assistant to obtain essential household items and services, respite
breaks, pain relief treatment, counselling services, educational
assistance, training grants, other practical help and reconciliation
projects as follows:
A Chronic Pain Management Scheme was launched
in May 2000. This scheme addresses some of the difficulties experienced
by chronic pain suffers who must join normal National Health Service
(NHS) waiting lists for appointments with Pain Management Consultants.
The Scheme provides a grant of up to Stg £2,000 to enable
chronic pain suffers to receive several private treatments per
year. The flexibility this scheme offers ensures that victims
and survivors can receive prompt treatment from the consultant
of their choice. In exceptional cases a grant of up to Stg£7,000
is available where a consultant recommends a surgical implant
designed to block pain as the most appropriate form of treatment.
An Amputee Assessment Scheme was introduced
on 18 April 2001 with the support of the Department of Health,
Social Services & Public Safety, and the Centre for Rehabilitation
Medicine at Musgrave Park Hospital, Belfast. This scheme will
look at addressing the specific needs of individuals who have
lost limbs. Following a positive assessment (in any country) by
a recognised consultant in rehabilitation medicine, the Fund will
provide a grant to obtain a better or more suitable prosthesis
where the consultant determines this would enhance the mobility
or quality of life of the amputee.
A Wheelchair Assessment Scheme was also launched
on 18 April 2001 with the support of the Department of Health,
Social Services & Public Safety, and the Regional Disablement
Services in Musgrave Park Hospital, Belfast. This scheme will
look at addressing the mobility needs of victims who require the
use of a wheelchair. Following a positive assessment (in any country)
by a recognised community occupational therapist or suitably qualified
technician, the Fund will provide a grant to obtain a lighter
or more suitable wheelchair, where the assessment determines this
would enhance the mobility or quality of life of the user.
A Short Break Scheme was introduced in May 2000
to allow victims and their immediate families the opportunity
to avail where needed of a beneficial rest, away from their usual
surroundings and responsibilities. Approximately 2,300 individuals
and families have benefited from the scheme which provided short
breaks for people located throughout England, Scotland Wales,
Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Trauma and Counselling
In 1998 the Department of Health and Social
Services Inspectorate published a report "Living with
the Trauma of the "Troubles"", which identified
numerous concerns about trauma counselling. There were many concerns
regarding the level of expertise attained by individual practitioners
and the degree of supervision that they receive. There was a clear
need to improve the channels available to victims and survivors
requiring trauma counselling, but not all of the solutions were
A follow-on review group was set up to identify
and promote good practice examples, suggest minimum counselling
standards, and recommend appropriate qualifications, accreditation
and supervisions requirements for counsellors. This is an area
which the Fund is currently trying to address.
The Small Grants Scheme was introduced on 30
November 1999, aimed at providing victims who are currently experiencing
financial difficulties, with small grants up to a maximum of Stg£500
to assist with the purchase of essential households items and
services, such as cookers, washing machines, school uniforms,
minor household maintenance etc. This scheme, with its modest
grant, has proved to be the largest single source of recognition
for victims and survivors addressing real need at a very basic
level, but in a very practical and personal way.
Discretionary Hardship Scheme was introduced
in September 2003 aimed at individuals who have lost the main
breadwinner as a result of the Troubles. This is the only one
of the Fund schemes which is means tested and applicants are assessed
on the basis of a home visit. This Fund has provided very practical
help to those in need.
Winter Assistance Grant was introduced in December
2004 to assist applicants over the age of 60 years with the additional
costs associated with the winter months such as heating, electricity
An Education and Training Scheme was introduced
on 1 July 2001. This scheme aims to help both children and adults
whose education has been fractured by their experiences, and adults
who require re-skilling or re-training. The scheme provides victims
and survivors with the opportunity to continue or further their
education or training to realise their legitimate ambitions, by
providing grants of up to Stg£1,200 towards subscription,
enrolment or entrance fees, attendance and course fees, educational
books and aids, home study courses, tuition, skills training,
career development or other relevant extra curricular activities
etc. The scheme will particularly focus on providing help during
the transition points in the education system.
The Fund continues to promote reconciliation
through a series of cross community projects. Group trips are
organised several times each year bringing both individuals and
families from both communities together, letting them share their
experiences in a safe environment and form new friendships.
In addition to these trips projects have also
been arranged through a cross community Christian Housing Association,
Habitat for Humanity. Each year the Fund takes groups of young
adults to places such as Romania, Hungary and Costa Rica to work
as a team on a building site building houses for families living
in poverty. These trips bring the young people together to form
friendships and give them a real sense of achievement in helping
those a lot less fortunate than themselves.
All of the programmes introduced by the Northern
Ireland Memorial Fund can be accessed by victims of the Northern
Ireland Troubles regardless of their current geographic location.
The Directors of the Fund are conscious that many individuals
in England and the Republic of Ireland, for example, have suffered
as a result of incidents in those locations. Indeed, many individuals
affected in Northern Ireland are now residing in other parts of
the British Isles and further afield. The Small Grants Scheme
has awarded grants to individuals residing throughout the British
Isles and the Republic of Ireland, as far afield as Austria and
7. THE RESPONSE
From the outset, the Fund's Directors have consulted
with individual victims and victim support groups before developing
and introducing new schemes, and have received very positive feedback.
Many hundreds of letters have been received from individuals who
have benefited from one or other of the Fund's initiatives. It
is transparently clear from those letters that the Memorial Fund
is making a difference by providing support and recognition in
a practical and personal way. The following is a sample of just
some of the comments the fund has received.
From the Project Co-ordinator of a victim support
group whose members attended the Edinburgh Respite Weekend.
"All those who were on the Edinburgh Weekend
have been singing the praises of the good work of the Memorial
Fund. I am really pleased that everything went well, and especially
pleased that some of our members have at last been recognised."
From a man severely injured in the early seventies
who received assistance from the Small Grants Scheme.
"I thought we were the forgotten people
of the Troubles, but thanks to the Memorial Fund a human face
and care shines through. I hope you know how much your help is
appreciated from me and my wife."
From a woman whose husband was killed in the
"I would like to thank the Memorial Fund
for all the help given to me and my family last year. You would
have no idea the difference it made to us. I have never been on
a proper holiday from 1987. My daughter and I went to London to
see my other daughter and we had a lovely time together. The help
buying some furniture was wonderful, but the gift at Christmas
was the best surprise I got this year. I cannot thank you all
enough. For over 20 years I gave my children first place in my
life. I didn't know what it was like to be able to do something
for myself, or even about it."
From a man who lost several members of his family.
"I would like to thank the Memorial Fund
for their kindness in sending me a £50 Christmas present.
I am also deeply grateful for the grant that you awarded me not
so long ago. I know of no other organisation that helps the victims
of the Troubles and their families more than the Northern Ireland
From a woman whose father was killed.
"Thank you so much for the Christmas gift
cheque. It was a wonderful and much appreciated surprise. The
money helped ease the financial burden of Christmas. The gesture
was a bit of emotional support at the time of the year when we
miss our loved ones; it feels good to be remembered. The Memorial
Fund has been a tremendous boost for me throughout all of last
From a man who was shot several times, and survived.
"I would like to thank the Memorial Fund
for the cheque you sent out at Christmas. This is the first help
I have ever had from any quarter since my injuries in 1972. I
hope the Small Grants Scheme will be continued, as it has taken
a lot of pressure off me."
From a man whose wife was killed.
"Many thanks for the Small Grant and the
gift of £50, it came at a time when I needed it, also when
I was felling very low. You think you are forgotten, but then
you realise someone is thinking of you."
From a woman whose husband was killed.
"After many years of feeling very alone
it was most touching to find people thinking and acting for victims
in a most practical manner. Words cannot express how your thoughtfulness
went some way to making Christmas better."
From the chairperson of a group supporting victims.
"I believe the Memorial Fund is a real sign
to the victims that at last they are being recognised and remembered."
From a retired couple whose son was killed in
the 1980s. "We find this is the first time in over 10 years
that anything has been offered to us as victims. We are delighted
that now, after so long, the victims are being recognised at grass
8. A CREDIBLE
Like most charities, the Northern Ireland Memorial
Fund relies on the support of the wider community to introduce
and sustain measures to meet its aims. Aside from support offered
by local and regional community groups, there is no other charity
in Ireland, north or south, with the objective to provide victims
and survivors with the recognition and range of practical assistance
proposed by the Northern Ireland Memorial Fund.
Remembering the Past by Building the Future
Northern Ireland has changed greatly. The Good
Friday Agreement and the devolution of powers to the new Northern
Ireland Assembly has led to a real sense of hope in the hearts
and minds of the people of Northern Ireland. Despite setbacks,
this hope and confidence in a brighter future continues to grow.
But for casualties of 30 years of conflictthe relatives
of up to 3,700 people who lost their lives and over 40,000 individuals
estimated to have been injuredthe damage is permanent.
For them, life will never be what it once was. For these individuals
and families, every day is an act of courage that has gone unnoticed.
Indeed, many have built on their devastating experiences to make
enormous contributions to the lives of others.
The Northern Ireland Memorial Fund seeks to
ensure that these victims and survivors are not forgotten. Their
example of how to overcome adversity is an example to the wider
community. Their suffering must inspire us to do everything in
our power to build a better future for everyone in Northern Ireland.
The Northern Ireland Memorial Find will promote
peace and reconciliation by supporting those who have suffered,
providing them with help and support to aid them in building a
better future for themselves.