Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt has been accused of exploiting victims of the Troubles after it emerged the new body set up to deal with their needs had been hit by two top-level resignations.
The former Victims Commissioner warned services for victims and their families had been plunged into chaos following the loss of the chief executive and board chairman of the Victims and Survivors Service (VSS).
The arm's-length body of the Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) has been dogged by controversy since it was established by Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness just over two years ago – and a revamp was under way following two damning reports.
VSS said it could not reveal the reasons behind the departures of chief executive Anne Dorbie or chairman of the board Peter Gay, who was only appointed last December – or give details of any severance packages.
Mr Nesbitt told the Belfast Telegraph: "It seems that every time OFMDFM make one step forward it is three steps back, and the sufferers yet again are the victims who are left with the provision of chaos."
But Sinn Fein MLA Bronwyn McGahan said Mr Nesbitt should be aware that the needs of victims was the central concern in the "well-documented and deep-rooted problems" around the Victims and Survivors Service.
"No one should be attempting to exploit vulnerable groups such as victims and survivors, nor should they be used in party political squabbles," she warned.