17 May 2007 Edition

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Scant justice for victim of UDA attack

Compensation rewarded to a victim of a unionist paramilitary gun attack has been slashed by the injuries agency. Jason O’Halloran was initially awarded a derogatory £487 but after a lengthy battle for compensation he was awarded £20,000 only to be informed that 75% of the award was being deducted because of previous driving offences.
Jason O’Halloran was shot three times by a UDA gunman who fired around fifteen rounds in a sectarian drive by shooting in North Belfast in 2002. Half an hour later the UDA murdered Catholic father of one Gerard Lawlor a short distance away on the Antrim Road.
In 2004 British PM Tony Blair intervened in the case ordering the NIO to reconsider the initial compensation offer of a few hundred pounds. Following the intervention the compensation agency ruled that O’Halloran was not entitled to any compensation citing a number of motoring offences.
The decision was appealed successfully and last week the north Belfast man was awarded £20,256 as compensation for his injuries but the injuries agency deducted £15,192 for previous driving convictions.
O’Halloran said the injuries he had sustained during the loyalist attack had been compounded by his treatment at the hands of the compensation agency.
“The government recently saw fit to reward the UDA for their terror campaign to the tune of £1.2 million and yet the victims are forced to jump through hoops to have our injury and trauma recognised,” said O’Halloran.

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