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Almost 700 applications received for victims’ pension

691 applications had been received for the Troubles Permanent Disablement Payment Scheme by October 10.

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Belfast bomb victim Jennifer McNern outside Belfast’s High Court, Belfast, begins court bid over Troubles pension. Jennifer McNern who lost both legs in the Abercorn bombing with legal team, solicitors Caroline Dunlop (left) and Matt Higgins (right) of HHD Solicitors (Liam McBurney/PA)

Belfast bomb victim Jennifer McNern outside Belfast’s High Court, Belfast, begins court bid over Troubles pension. Jennifer McNern who lost both legs in the Abercorn bombing with legal team, solicitors Caroline Dunlop (left) and Matt Higgins (right) of HHD Solicitors (Liam McBurney/PA)

Belfast bomb victim Jennifer McNern outside Belfast’s High Court, Belfast, begins court bid over Troubles pension. Jennifer McNern who lost both legs in the Abercorn bombing with legal team, solicitors Caroline Dunlop (left) and Matt Higgins (right) of HHD Solicitors (Liam McBurney/PA)

A pension scheme for people severely injured during the Troubles has received almost 700 applications since it opened, MLAs have been told.

First Minister Paul Givan told the Assembly during question time on Monday that by October 10, 691 applications had been received.

The Troubles Permanent Disablement Payment Scheme opened in August following years of political and legal disputes.

Eligible recipients will be in line for payments ranging from between £2,000 and £10,000 a year.

The scheme covers violence related to the Northern Ireland Troubles between 1966 and 2010.

Stormont and Westminster remain at loggerheads over funding for the scheme.

Mr Givan said Finance Minister Conor Murphy “continues to engage with the Treasury and make the case for contributions to be made from the Treasury”, pointing out the terms were “widened” in London while Stormont was collapsed.

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“I don’t disagree with that decision but there were decisions taken by the Secretary of State, it was passed by Westminster and that did enlarge the scope of the scheme,” he told MLAs.

“I think it is right that London would make a contribution.”

Mr Givan said payments are being made in line with the High Court ruling earlier this year that the Executive must fund the scheme.

Meanwhile Mr Givan and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill announced a recruitment competition for a new Commissioner for Victims and Survivors.

He said the closing date for applications is noon on October 15.

“The commissioner will have an important role in ensuring victims and survivors are supported and we would encourage all those who have the relevant skills and experience to apply,” he said.

“We expect the interviews to take place the week commencing November 15 with the new commissioner in post by early 2022.”

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Former Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson (Liam McBurney/PA)

Former Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson (Liam McBurney/PA)

PA

Former Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson (Liam McBurney/PA)

The previous victims commissioner Judith Thompson finished her term in August 2020.

SDLP MLA Colin McGrath asked Mr Givan did his office owe victims an apology for the 16 month gap.

Mr Givan said the functions of the office “have continued to be discharged”.

“We have a process now in place to fill the vacancy that has been there but in the absence of having a victims commissioner in place, there has been very important work that has continued to be developed,” he said.

“Yes, I accept there has been an absence of a victims commissioner, that in no way has prevented the functions of that office from carrying on.”


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