13 August 2020

Stormont parties challenged to ‘step up’ over delayed victims pension

13 August 2020

The Stormont parties have been challenged to “step up” over the delayed pension scheme for victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles.

MPs passed legislation last year to establish the payment scheme for people injured in the Troubles.

However the scheme for those most severely injured in Northern Ireland’s troubled past has been delayed over a Stormont dispute over whether former paramilitaries should be eligible.

Coronavirus – Thu Jul 2, 2020 (PA Wire)

The DUP and Sinn Fein are at loggerheads over the definition of a victim.

There is also disagreement between Belfast and London over who should pay for the scheme.

Victims group Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW) has asked the Stormont parties to “step up to the plate” and publicly state their position on the scheme.

It is now 75 days since it was due to be implemented.

UHRW advocacy manager Axel Schmidt described the date as a “shameful milestone”.

“Hundreds of innocent victims of terrorism have been left in a bad place because of the political failure to get on with what Westminster passed into legislation. The Northern Ireland Executive has failed them,” he said.

“This failure leaves many feeling they have been re-traumatised, abandoned and shunted to the sidelines as some politicians argue over something that has already cleared all legislative hurdles.

The delay is unconscionable, mean-spirited and reprehensible.

“Ulster Human Rights Watch believe the time is right to call on all parties who adhere to democracy and oppose terrorism to publicly state their positions on the scheme.

“If they remain deadlocked, one of the following things could be done: either the Northern Ireland Executive takes the decision to forge ahead with the introduction of the scheme on the basis of majority support or the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland can step in to ensure the administration of the scheme is delivered by Westminster.”

Mr Schmidt added: “The delay is unconscionable, mean-spirited and reprehensible. It bestows no credit on those who want to amend the legislation to lend legitimacy to terrorists who delivered a lifetime of pain, agony and distress to tens of thousands of innocent victims.

“We are waiting for the political parties who stand on democratic principles to give victims of terrorism the clarity they deserve.”

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