I Would Like Some Compensation… £2950 Will Do Nicely…

I walked home from work one night. That happened a lot forty odd years ago. No buses and too many people trying to get a black taxi. Larry McCoubrey was reading the news and he mentioned a robbery at my place of work.

“Did you know about that” said my mother.

“That was me mammy”.

My mother never knew all the details. A gun was put into my mouth and the guy said he would blow my xxxxing head off.

It was an uncomfortable few months. Nobody said to take a week off. The good cop and the bad cop (the one who just stared at me) came back and forward. Co-workers asked if I would recognise the guys. Some hilarious colleagues would come up behind me and put their fingers in back “stick em up”. Hilarious.

After six months I had enough. Left the job without getting another and was six months in the house not claiming benefit. I got a new job. Just started over. And eventually the Housing Executive got us a transfer to a new town. Like I said…starting over.

In comparison with the big generalised traumas like the Ballymurphy Massacre or attending friends funerals or the petty insults like the young soldier who made me stand in the rain in the Grosvenor Road withut my shoes, the robbery incident was the one big thing. The one big anecdote.

And of course my story is replicated all over the Falls Road…or the Shankill. Everybody has a few stories.

We were of course very naive. PTSD had not been invented and we just had to get over it. And most of us did.

I got over it.

But about ten years later I was a young married man and we had at least one baby and financially it was not easy. We were talking about things in work one day and a colleague said “theres compensation for that kinda thing”.

I phoned an office in Griffin House (I dont even know where it is) and the guy listened to my story. And he laughed at me. Because theres a time limit on these things……..as I recall two weeks for damage to property and a month for personal injury.

There are really two parts to the Troubles. There is the part when nobody knew what was going on. Nobody had any rights.

But at some point the lawyers moved in and set up shop on the Falls Road and it seems that every trauma and injury has a price tag.

No doubt some of Sluggers readership are solicitors. They will know the score.

Compensation Culture. We all hate it, dont we? Well it depends…someone claiming whiplash on our insurance is a chancer….but anyone who has actually been an innocent victim in an accident, we understand the entitlement.

But how do you quantify these things….Id say that a Falls or Shankill resident or a border farmer or might have suffered more generally or specifically than a resident of Cultra.

Frankly I am not that bothered about myself but it seems victims and survivors were treated in different ways along the Timeline.

Eames-Bradley were criticised for the formula…was it £12,000 for every victim? It would be a mistake to think that the proposal got nowhere because some people could not accept that the RUC man, UDA man, British military, IRA man and innocent civilian was being treated the same.

No…its more basic than that. The people getting the payments would not have been…us. We feel we are as deserving. But our trama, real on the Falls or Shankill went unremarked in 1970……or 1975.

Victims only became classified circa 1980.

It is simply the fact that we dont like people getting something that we are not getting. We are sick of solicitors saying at the steps of a courthouse that “no amount of money can compensate my client for (insert trauma) but now that you bring it up, my client would like a lot of cash and as his/her solicitor, Id like a lot of cash also”.

There is no groundswell of support for victims and survivors.

There will be no support until we are all designated as victims with a ticket for compo.

How many of us are there who have any real recollection of 1969-1998.

Thirty years.

How about we all get £100 for every adult year between 1969 and 1998 and £50 for every year as a child. My share would be £2,950 and my wife would be on £2,600 and with £700 and £600 for my sons……well that seems a fair settlement.

You could probably work out your own share.

And we could all do without lawyers and enquiries and politicians.

And endless seminars where conflict resolutionists and academics are sharing our pain.

It really is not that complicated.