Anger over disparity in payouts to victims of blood scandal in Northern Ireland
The Haemophilia Society has written to three of Northern Ireland's top civil servants asking them to release Government money to help those affected by the contaminated blood scandal.
Across the UK at least 2,400 people died after being treated with infected blood products during transfusions and other treatments in the 1970s and 1980s.
According to The Haemophilia Society, people from Northern Ireland who were infected are missing out on tens of thousands of pounds in financial support compared to victims in England.
The letter, which has been sent to the heads of the Departments of Health and Finance at Stormont, as well as NI Civil Service chief David Sterling, asks why money released in September has not yet reached the victims. A victim in Northern Ireland with hepatitis C stage 1 will get a maximum of £4,500 a year from the Infected Blood Support Scheme, but in England the payment is £18,458, rising to £28,000.
Chancellor of the Exchequer Sajid Javid gave £400m to Northern Ireland as part of his spending review and requested that some of the money be spent on the victims of the scandal.
Trevor Marsden, who lives near Carrickfergus, contracted hepatitis C as a result of treatment with contaminated blood products for his haemophilia B.
He receives an annual payment of £4,500 a year and said it was "shameful and discriminatory" that victims from Northern Ireland have been treated so "callously".
"Me and my family have suffered financial hardship because of my hepatitis C infection," he added.
"We shouldn't have to constantly beg for reasonable financial support that, by right, we are entitled to."
Last night spokesmen for both the Departments of Health and Finance said payments to victims here were at a similar level to England until an uplift for English beneficiaries was announced in April - but no extra resources were made available to Northern Ireland as a result.
The Department of Health said it is now working with its counterparts in Britain "to take forward the principle of parity of support".
The Department of Finance said: "The NI Budget for 2020-21 has not yet been set, this issue will be an important part of our Budget discussions."