We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Jeanitta McCabe (r) with Paul Casey of the WAVE Trauma Centre. Jeanitta McCabe
The Troubles

'Absolutely horrendous': Woman who witnessed father being shot by IRA denied Troubles' scheme

Jeanitta McCabe witnessed her father being shot multiple times in her family home in 1990, but this has not been deemed a ‘Troubles-related incident’.

LAST UPDATE | 5 Jun 2023

A WOMAN WHO witnessed her father being shot by the IRA has said she’s been “taken up the garden path” after being deemed ineligible for a payment scheme for Troubles victims.

Jeanitta McCabe was 10-years-old when she witnessed her father Peter McCabe being shot multiple times in her family home in Newry in 1990.

She and her family applied to the Troubles Permanent Disabilities Payment (TPDP) scheme in November 2021.

The Scheme, which opened in August 2021, provides payments to those living with physical or psychological injuries sustained in Troubles-related incidents.

The Victims’ Payment Board was established in February 2021 to determine applications under the Troubles Permanent Disablement Payment scheme. 

Jeanitta suffers from fibromyalgia, which she said is worsened by the stress of the incident she witnessed in 1990, and also suffers from PTSD.

However, after progressing through seven stages of the scheme, the assessors deemed that this was not a Troubles-related incident.

A Troubles-related incident is described as one that took place “on or after midnight on 1 January 1966 but before 11:59 pm on 12 April 2010”.

It is further described as “an incident involving an act of violence or force carried out in Ireland, the United Kingdom or anywhere in Europe for a reason related to the constitutional status of Northern Ireland or to political or sectarian hostility between people there”.

Jeanitta’s father’s case has yet to be dealt with, and Jeanitta fears that his shooting will also be deemed to be a non-Troubles related incident.

Speaking to The Journal on her experience of applying for the Troubles payment scheme, Jeanitta said: “It’s been absolutely horrendous to be honest with you.

“We put an application in over a year and a half ago. 

“Initially, it was supposed to be that if somebody was terminally ill or aged, they were going to be dealt with before the younger age group.

“And a long story short, I went right through to stage seven and my father, who was actually shot, still hasn’t even had a decision.”

Peter McCabe’s case is due to be heard towards the end of this month, while Jeanitta said there is no date yet for a hearing on her mother’s case, while “the rest of the family are nowhere near that stage”.

‘Unsung Hero’

Peter Keeley is a former British agent who is alleged to have infiltrated the IRA using the pseudonym Kevin Fulton.

He has written a book titled Unsung Hero in which he claims to have worked undercover in the IRA as a British agent.

“Peter Keeley, who was the agent working undercover, wrote in his book what he had done in my father’s house, he referred to the shooting” Jeanitta told The Journal.

“When he entered the house, he declared straightaway that he was from the provisional IRA and my father had 24 hours to get out of Ireland.

“The visual of him in a pool of blood will never leave me.

“I gave copies of this book to the Victims’ Payment Board (VPB) but they have now decided that this is not a Troubles-related incident and have forced an appeal.”

Jeanitta and her family fled Ireland after this incident and lived with relatives in Scotland and England over the following five years after the shooting. 

Jeanitta said the decision by the VPB was a “double whammy” after all that has happened in closed courts in her family’s court cases with Peter Keeley.

“It was a double whammy for us because we have this ongoing court case for nine years and we have been through closed courts, then when it came to the crunch, all of a sudden the other side withdrew from mediation, and we were left in limbo,” said Jeanitta.

“The next thing then was that the payment scheme was up and running and we were in line for it.

“Both our solicitor Kevin Winters and the WAVE Trauma Centre, who supports us all as a family, as far as they were concerned, this was straightforward and there was no contradiction here or question marks.

“And then at stage seven, they decided that they don’t feel it was a Troubles-related incident and that while it has all the hallmarks of a paramilitary style attack, they can’t be sure that it was.”

Paul Casey of the WAVE Trauma Centre is assisting Jeanitta with her appeal.

In a statement to The Journal, Casey said: “We believe this decision is wrong. We believe it is a very narrow interpretation of the regulations and we look forward to having it reconsidered successfully.”


“Going through each stage of this was so hard,” Jeanitta told The Journal.

“While they say they don’t want to retraumatise people, even applying for it was retraumatising because you have to go back there.

“At stage one, the verification stage, is where they check on your information. At that point, if you don’t meet the criteria, you won’t go to stage two.

“I made it the whole way to stage seven and went through a three-hour interview with Capita about the incident and then at stage seven was told, ‘no actually, we’ve decided this is not a Troubles-related incident’.

“This should have been done at stage one, if that’s what they had felt.”

Capita is an outsourcing company that has worked with Northern Ireland’s Department of Justice and the Victims’ Payment Board to develop the assessment process.

Capita’s website said that it puts the “victim at the heart of the process” and created a “wholly victim-centric approach” and that it “delivers specialist trauma training for our TPDP scheme clinical assessors”.

Mark Durkan is an SDLP MLA for Folye.

In a statement to The Journal, he said that the SDLP has raised “multiple concerns around the practices of Capita and its continued use by Stormont departments”.

“We have repeatedly heard from people who feel that they have been put through horrendous ordeals simply to access support to which they are entitled and others who have been turned down only for the decision to be reversed on appeal,” said Durkan.

He added: “I have personally been contacted by a constituent who lost a loved one during the Troubles and found the entire process to be deeply distressing.

“They waited three years only to be told that they had been awarded zero points. We were advised at the outset of this scheme that it would have victims’ best interests at heart, that it would be non-intrusive and the onus would be on the Victims’ Payment Board to source medical evidence.

“What we’ve seen play out has been contrary to those promises.

“It’s deeply disappointing that something which was set up to help support Troubles victims has resulted in deep hurt and upset and in some cases will have retraumatised victims and left people who have gone through some of the most harrowing experiences feeling belittled or humiliated.”

Grading of victims

The Troubles Permanent Disabilities Payment scheme states that the “assessed degree of disablement must be expressed as a percentage between 0 and 100, where the higher the score, the higher the degree of disablement”.

The assessed degree of disablement must be above 14% for a victim to be deemed eligible for payment from the scheme.

Regarding a physical disability, the “loss of two phalanges of index finger” is rated “mild” and is deemed to be grade two, at between 11% and 20% of assessed degree of disablement.

“Amputation below the knee with stump exceeding 13cm” is given as an example of a “moderate” grade 4 disability, ranking between 31-40%.

“Amputation through shoulder joint” is deemed a “very extreme” grade nine, at between 81-90%.

Payments start at grade two, where an annual rate of £2,298 (€2,677) is offered.

Grade 10 degrees of disablement come with annual rates of £11,490 (€13,385).

When it comes to psychological conditions, grade two is described as someone whose “symptoms may be easily exacerbated by psychosocial stressors”.

Grade 10 is someone who has an “inability to care for personal hygiene”, is “entirely treatment resistant”, and has “totally incapacitating mental health problems”.

Jeanitta applied under both strands of the scheme.

“I had applied for both and supplied a lot of medical evidence to support that, going back over the past 20 plus years, but the Victims’ Payment Board decided that they would award me 28% on PTSD,” said Jeanitta.

“They didn’t take on board the fact that I have recurrent depressive disorder, that I have fibromyalgia and have had chronic pain for 20 plus years.

“I had doctor’s letters which linked the trauma that I had suffered to the fact that I had such chronic fibromyalgia.

“There were psychiatry reports, extensive mental health reports, GP reports, the medical evidence was a lot and it all linked, like joining the dots,” said Jeanitta.

She added: “The Victim’s Payment Board then asked me to get a questionnaire filled in by my psychiatrist, which I had done, and they asked the psychiatrist, ‘can you confirm this was a Troubles-related incident?’

“The psychiatrist confirmed it, and then they asked if the psychiatrist could confirm the severity of my injuries, and again the psychiatrist said that my injuries are chronic in nature.”

However, Jeanitta was then informed that while she would have been eligible for a grade three payment, this would not be the case as her incident wasn’t “Troubles-related”.

“My solicitor is lost for words as to how they’ve come up with this decision,” said Jeanitta.

She told The Journal she’s “fully prepared that they won’t turn their decision around and therefore it will be a court case”.

However, Jeanitta added: “There’s been that much incompetence with the Victims’ Payment Board that I wouldn’t be shocked if they put one member of the family through for acceptance but refuse others.

“And then I’m also cautious that if they do turn their decision around, it could be a further fight to actually get the correct amount of payment.

“Because they’re really minimising people’s injuries, which is so distressing when you’re living with the aftermath of the incident daily, to the point where you’re just really existing through your life.”

‘Taken up the garden path’

Jeanitta told The Journal that “someone needs to do something because what they’re doing to people is so unfair”.

“Anyone who has suffered from the Troubles have suffered enough, without being taken up the garden path and I feel like that is what they are doing to people.

“When our applications went in, every last thing they requested in terms of evidence – newspaper clippings, court proceedings, medical reports – they didn’t have to go to look for it because I submitted every last thing they could have wanted.

“If they feel that it’s not a Troubles-related incident, that should be made clear to the victim at stage one, not at stage seven, so you know what you’re dealing with, rather than waiting for this outcome and then nothing.

“That was really hard.”

In a statement to The Journal, a spokesperson for the VPB said: “The Victims’ Payments Board takes every possible measure to ensure its actions are in the interests of the victims.

“While we cannot make any comment on individual cases, however, a determination made by the Victims’ Payments Board can be appealed within 12 months of the date the applicant is notified of the decision.

“In terms of grading people’s injuries, the regulations require that an assessment of the degree of relevant disablement is carried out by a Healthcare Professional.

“This assesses the severity of permanent disablement arising from injuries caused by a Troubles-related incident or incidents.”

A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Office also issued a statement to The Journal and said: “Although the scheme is devolved and is being delivered by the Department for Justice, the Secretary of State (Chris Heaton-Harris) is required to carry out a review of the scheme in the coming months.

“This review requires consultation with the President of the Scheme and others, and will consider a number of issues which relate to the operation of the scheme.”

In a statement to The Journal, a spokesperson for Capita said: “Capita provides healthcare professionals to assess the degree of permanent disablement on behalf of the Victims’ Payments Board.

“All of the assessors have had specialist trauma training and we follow a victim-centric, sensitive and flexible approach that has been approved by the VPB and is designed to minimize the potential for re-traumatisation.”


There has also been criticism of the closing date for the scheme, which is August 2026.

In a statement to The Journal, the SDLP’s Mark Durkan said: “Victims’ groups have been clear that the current deadline could result in victims missing out on this funding.

“We would ask for flexibility around the existing deadline for applications, with serious consideration given to extending the deadline to ensure everyone entitled can avail of it.”

Meanwhile, Alliance leader Naomi Long issued a statement to The Journal saying: “I have agreed to meet with a number of survivors to see how I can help with their cases, given the legislation I implemented was intended to help them more than the final scheme legislated for by the Secretary of State appears to do.”

A Victim’s Payment Board spokesperson said in a statement to The Journal: “With regards to the cut off date in 2026, this is not something that would be within the power or remit of the VPB. 

“This is a political decision that the Secretary of State would take.”