Manchester

IRA mainland victims say compensation claims 'ignored'

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Media captionAerial footage shows the IRA bomb explode in Manchester in June 1996

Survivors of an IRA bomb blast in Manchester have said their compensation claims are being ignored because they do not live in Northern Ireland.

They are demanding a pension, for which Northern Irish victims of the Troubles could be eligible.

One person injured in the 1996 blast, has called on the UK government to "support its victims".

The British government said it would "consider the position in relation to victims elsewhere in the UK".

There were no deaths, but about 200 people were injured when a 3,300lb device exploded near the Arndale Centre on 15 June 1996, devastating the busy shopping area.

Image copyright PA
Image caption More than 200 people were injured after an IRA bomb exploded in Manchester in 1996

Greater Manchester Police have launched a fresh review of the evidence in the hope of finally finding those responsible.

The Manchester survivors have had their views echoed by the group representing victims of the London Docklands bombing in the same year, who said the government's conduct was "appalling".

Plans for a special pension for severely injured victims in Northern Ireland were included in the 2014 Stormont House Agreement.

However talks on the payment, which would be funded by money devolved to Stormont, have stalled at the Northern Ireland Assembly. Sinn Féin insists injured IRA bombers should also be entitled to the pension but unionist politicians strongly object.

A spokesman for the British government's Northern Ireland Office said: "Victims' issues in Northern Ireland are the responsibility of the devolved administration.

"We can see a case for awarding a pension to victims who were severely physically injured as a result of the Troubles and would like to see this happen."

Image caption Blast survivors say the victims need greater support from the Government

He added that victims of violent crime, including terrorism, in England, Scotland and Wales could be eligible for compensation through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme.

A victim who wanted to remain anonymous said: "I don't understand why the UK government hasn't supported its victims. It doesn't make any sense to me."

The calls, supported by victims of other IRA bombings in England. come ahead of the 20th anniversary of the IRA attack in Manchester on 15 June 1996.

Image caption It is 20 years since the Manchester bombing

Judith Thompson, commissioner for victims and survivors of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, said: "Geography shouldn't be a barrier.

"People are almost worse off outside Northern Ireland... because the context of what they've suffered isn't understood in the same way."

Victims of IRA blasts also say they are entitled to money from the frozen bank accounts of the late Libyan leader Colonel Gadaffi as the Semtex used in IRA attacks from the mid-1980s onwards was supplied by the country.

The UK Foreign Office said: "We are determined to see a just solution for UK victims of Gadaffi-sponsored IRA terrorism.

"The new Libyan government is aware of our position, but the significant security, political and economic challenges they are facing means progress may take time."

Towards the end of Gadaffi's rule, relatives of the victims in the 1988 Pan AM flight bombing over Lockerbie received compensation from Libya as the attack was blamed on Tripoli.

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