Criminal Injuries Compensation for Real IRA Family Criticised

Unionist parties in Northern Ireland have called for a review of the criminal injuries compensation policy, following reports that a “substantial” sum had been paid to the relatives of murdered Real IRA member Kieran Doherty.

Doherty was kidnapped, shot and dumped beside a Londonderry road by other members of the paramilitary gang in February 2010. His mother and grandmother applied for criminal injuries compensation, and were initially refused. Upon a successful appeal, they were awarded an undisclosed sum which was described as “substantial” by a relative.

While Tom Elliott of the Ulster Unionist Party expressed sympathy for Doherty’s family, he noted the “grave offence” that the compensation award had caused to many, and stated that his party opposed the principle of paying compensation to the families of people who were members of terrorist organisations.

Justice Minister David Ford acknowledged that the payment had caused upset to victims of terrorism, but said that the payment was entirely within the scope of current criminal injuries legislation, and that a review was already underway.

While the awarded sum remains officially undisclosed, and some reports mentioned figures as high as £200,000, the Irish News reported that it was £5,500 plus an amount towards funeral costs. The standard payment for one fatality is stated by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Appeals Panel of Northern Ireland to be £11,000, and it is understood that the award was halved due to the victim’s unspent criminal conviction.

In England, Scotland and Wales, criminal injuries compensation is administered by the Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority, part of the Ministry of Justice. A wide range of both physical and mental injuries can be compensated through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Scheme, with awards ranging from £1000 upwards.

Seeking criminal injuries compensation can often be a complex process, but here at Blackwater Law our team deals with criminal injury claims on a regular basis and can offer expert legal advice to ensure that you will have the strongest claim possible. It is important to begin your claim promptly, as there is often a two year time limit in place, so if you think you may be entitled to criminal injuries compensation, you should contact us straight away.