NI: New victims’ commissioner to be named within days
Northern Ireland’s next Victims’ Commissioner will be announced in the next few days, according to the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister.
The post has been vacant for over a year.
Following criticism from the Victims and Survivors Service (VSS), a spokesman for the OFMDFM confirmed that a candidate had been “selected and agreed” and would be announced “in the coming days when all the relevant people have been informed and the necessary processes complete”.
Oliver Wilkinson, VSS chair, had told the Belfast Telegraph: “It is absolutely essential that an appointment is made as soon as possible. The longer we go on without one, the more fractured the victims’ community is becoming. Victims need the opportunity to put their fears, concerns, anxieties and hopes forward and they need a strong champion who can do that and bring their message to politicians.
“Without that, there are groups who are heading off in different directions.”
Mr Wilkinson also said Kathryn Stone, who stepped down from the post last June, “built up a very good reputation and there were huge expectations among people which fell when she left”.
The Commission for Victims and Survivors (CVS) has operated without a commissioner since the start of July 2014.
However, there have been a series of resignations from the Victims Forum, and the Victims’ Commissioner is the only person who can nominate replacements.
The commission’s secretary is currently fulfilling the day-to-day functional responsibilities of the Commissioner, but is unable to fulfil the statutory duties and exercise the statutory powers of the Commissioner as set out on the CVS website.