A CHILD victim of horrific abuse has been praised for her part in changing the law on compensation payments.
“The same household rule was unfair and I recognise the impact on all victims whose applications were refused simply because they lived with their attacker,” the Alliance minister said. Amending the law will bring the Northern Ireland Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme (NICICS) into line with Britain. Applications for retrospective payments should be made within two years. “The payment can never fully compensate for the injuries suffered, but it is recognition of the pain and suffering of victims who experienced abuse and violence perpetrated by members of their own household,” Mrs Long said.
Follow this link to find out more about Breige McLaughlin (Meehan) -: https://m.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=3205039782909107&id=100002093504519&set=a.439170419496071&source=48&ref=bookmarks
Ms Meehan waived her right to anonymity in The Irish News back in 2009, having made a complaint to the PSNI/RUC the previous year about her stepmother. A daughter of prominent republican Martin Meehan, who died suddenly in 2007, she had been subjected to around 15 months of almost constant daily physical and mental abuse at the hands of McLaughlin (Meehan) from the age of nine. She was eventually taken into care in 1980, underweight, covered in bruises and with patches of hair missing. The former Newtownabby Sinn Féin councillor pleaded guilty to two assaults and child cruelty and neglect between July 1979 and October 1980. Seven counts of alleged sexual abuse were left on the books.
She was given a suspended sentence on the basis of her age, guilty pleasure and perceived low risk to the public. Ms Meehan would have been entitled to a criminal injury payment had she not lived with her abuser. However, the antiquated ‘same roof’ policy led to her being refused compensation. That was overturned on appeal by Lord Justice Treacy in November 2018 when he said: “We can think of no reasonable foundation for a decision to maintain in being an arbitrary exclusion of this proven victim of criminal injuries from a compensation scheme which is specifically designed to compensate such victims.”
Victim Support NI chief executive Geraldine Hanna on Tuesday June 9th praised the actions of Mary Meehan in pursuing the change to the law. “I am delighted that this discriminatory clause in the Northern Ireland Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme has finally been removed. “It has caused unimaginable hurt and pain to the victims of childhood abuse. Children do not have a choice over where they live – they cannot remove themselves from the home and live independently in order to escape the abuse. “By remaining in the household they are not consenting to the abuse they experienced – they simply had no other choice. This abuse will have affected them throughout their lives.
“We would encourage anyone who believes they may be eligible for this compensation to contact us for independent information and support. “We thank all those who have long campaigned for this change, in particular the victims whose successful legal challenges in 2018 led to the abolition of this rule.” Speaking to The Irish News, Ms Meehan said: “I am delighted that the law has been changed and no-one else will have to through what I have. It’s been a very long journey and a stressful time. “I hope that other victims, who were maybe afraid to come forward, will see this new law and know that things have changed, hopefully for the better.”
With many thanks to: The Irish News and Allison Morris for the original story