Belfast Telegraph

Pension plan for Troubles' disabled

By Noel McAdam

A Private Member's Bill to create a special pension for severely disabled victims of the Troubles is to be brought forward in the Assembly, the DUP has said.

The proposed legislation – which had the backing of former Victims Commissioner Kathryn Stone – recognises that many victims of bombs and shootings during the 30-year conflict are now in or approaching pension age.

It is believed there are a group of about 600 people involved who could recieve payments of up to £150 a week.

Victims' groups and other campaigners have long pointed out many of those affected had been left unable to work and build up pension contributions.

A 2012 report for one of the largest victims groups, the Wave Trauma Centre, noted deteriorating health and increased dependency due to the combination of ageing and limitations caused by injuries, some severe and traumatic "and having long-term effects on all aspects of their lives".

As it launched a public consultation on the proposal yesterday, the DUP said it would also acknowledge "that those victims and survivors who are most in need want greater security as they move into or through their older years".

"We are of the view that this pension should be targeted at those who are most in need – the severely physically injured."

DUP leader Peter Robinson said one of the party's commitments to the "innocent" victims of terrorism was to support a special pension for those innocent victims who were severely physically injured as a result of the violence during the Troubles.

"This consultation document is the first significant step in making that commitment a reality," the First Minister added.

"Many victims, particularly those who have been severely injured and where unable to be employed and work towards a pension, have told us they want greater security as they get older. The proposed pension is one way that this security can be offered to those who have been most disadvantaged."

Before she resigned in May Mrs Stone said: "We want to ensure that group of people with serious physical injuries have some dignity in their later years and don't have to worry about having enough money to buy oil to heat their homes and to have proper care as they get older."

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