When is a victim not a victim?

 So. That’s it. No more of this nonsense where terrorists who engage in violence are by sleight of hand and twist of tongue declared to be victims and paid a pension. True victims only – those who had violence inflicted on them, not their assailants – will be in receipt of payments.

But hold. Were those who claimed that people who engaged in violence should be seen as victims too – were they insane? Devious? Chancers?

Well, one such claimant was on Raidio Uladh/Radio Ulster a day or two back.  His name is Jude Whyte and he spoke of how loyalists had come to their home and killed his mother . A year earlier, a bomb which loyalists had brought to kill her went off prematurely. Whyte’s mother sent her son Jude out to put a pillow under the head of one of the bombers, and a blanket to cover him with. Jude Whyte remembers looking down at the man, half of whose face had been blown away and who had lost a hand. He was calling out “Oh don’t kill me, Mister!” . Whyte told him he hadn’t come to kill him, he’d come to comfort him until an ambulance came. As it happened the loyalist, David Maitland, died.  Whyte declared that people like Maitland were victims of the violent convulsion of the times, just as his mother was a victim.

That seems to me not just forgiving and compassionate, but good sense as well. Who would construct and carry a bomb that might go off at any minute if their lives hadn’t been distorted by events of the time? The people who engaged in violence did so knowing full well that their chances of being killed or imprisoned were very high. And yet they did it.

Finally, look south. When the Tan War ended and the Free State was established, those who had engaged in the violent struggle were issued  with pensions.  Had they not been successful in that conflict, they would of course be in just the position that many former combatants north of the border find themselves in today.

For a man of reasonable intelligence and an avowed Christian, Jeffrey Donaldson shows little understanding and less Christianity in his smug justification of the exclusion of combatants from the name ‘victim’.

Comments are closed.