26/08/2002

Omagh bomb compensation procedure slammed

Relatives of the victims of the Omagh bomb and those injured in the atrocity have hit out at the compensation procedure, with some calling it "appalling" and "humiliating".

It has been revealed that some families of those killed by the Real IRA bomb on August 15 1998 have been offered as little as £7,500 in compensation for their loss.

The procedure for assessing compensation for injuries received has also been slammed, with one woman saying that she was asked to strip in front of a number of people so that an examiner could verify the extent of her wounds.

Fifty-three-year-old Rosemary Ingram has accused the claims panel of "degrading" treatment following her examination.

Her brother Stanley McCombe, whose wife was killed in the explosion, said: "She said it was so degrading that she had to stand there in her underwear and letting these people have a cheap view. They asked her husband to leave the room and quite rightly he refused. In the end he had to take his jacket off and put it around Rosemary's shoulders."

Victims Minister Des Browne has said that he will look into the claims.

The Northern Ireland Compensation Agency was established in April 1992 to support the victims of violent crime by providing compensation to those who sustain loss as a result of actions taken under emergency provisions legislation.

According to last year's annual report, the Compensation Agency cleared 11,874 criminal injury claims at an average cost of £291 per claim, and registered a total expenditure of £3.266 million for the year.

The Real IRA bomb in 1998 killed 29 people, including a mother pregnant with twins, and injured 330 people. Colm Murphy, a 49-year-old building contractor, is the only person to have been convicted in relation to the bombing. He was sentenced to 14 years in January for conspiracy to commit the explosion.

(GMcG)

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