Wheelchair provision in Northern Ireland falls behind rest of UK, say Troubles victims

The provision of wheelchairs and prosthetics in Northern Ireland is worse than in the rest of the UK, according to victims of the Troubles.

A number of people who were injured during the 30-year conflict are now demanding action and are due to travel to Westminster to call for MPs to push for a special pension for severely injured victims of the Troubles.      

Paul Gallagher, who has used a wheelchair since being shot in 1994, told the Press Association that it is “shocking” that people damaged by the conflict still have to “lobby and plead” with the authorities at local and national level to allow them lead independent lives.

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He said: “In terms of the needs of wheelchair users like me or amputees who use prosthetic limbs, it is clear that the level of provision in Northern Ireland is lower than elsewhere in the UK and that is not good enough.”

Many victims of the Troubles have been surviving on benefits because they have been unable to build up occupational pensions because of their injuries, it is claimed.

Mr Gallagher added: “The government’s refusal to treat the severely injured as part of the legacy of the conflict is part of the same kind of mindset.

“The Secretary of State can talk about the government’s responsibilities to ‘provide better outcomes for victims and survivors, the people who suffered most during the Troubles’, but then in effect say that those responsibilities do not extend to men and women who lost eyes, arms and legs during the Troubles.

“We are treated as an embarrassing inconvenience because we have lived longer than expected.

“One of the reasons why we’ve lived far longer than predicted is because of the support of our families and a stubborn determination to make our lives work as best we can in circumstances that we would not wish on anyone.

“We bring the same stubborn determination to campaigning for what we need that so far is being denied to us.”

Meanwhile, the group, which is being supported by the Wave organisation, will also visit the spinal rehabilitation unit at Stoke Mandeville Hospital in Buckinghamshire and meet representatives from Limbcare and the Limbless Association, according to the Press Association.

Tags : limbcarelimbless associationprostheticstroubleswheelchair provisionwheelchair service
Joe Peskett

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