Belfast Telegraph

‘No Troubles pension for injured paramilitaries convicted of terror attacks’

Many victims’ groups are angry at the prospect of loyalist and republican paramilitaries receiving the same financial support as innocent victims.

Victims’ Commissioner Judith Thompson (Liam McBurney/PA)
Victims’ Commissioner Judith Thompson (Liam McBurney/PA)

By David Young, PA

Paramilitaries injured while committing terror attacks will not receive a Troubles pension if they were convicted of the crime, according to anticipated Government proposals.

It is understood the eligibility requirement is how the Northern Ireland Office will seek to ensure that support is only offered to those injured through no fault of their own.

The Government will be under a legal duty to introduce a victims payment scheme in Northern Ireland by next summer if the Stormont Executive is not up and running later this month.

Controversy surrounds the issue, with many victims’ groups angry at the prospect of loyalist and republican paramilitaries receiving the same support as innocent victims.

There is understood to be a small number of paramilitaries who were injured while committing terrorist attacks.

We would intend this scheme to support people seriously injured in Troubles-related incidents through no fault of their own Northern Ireland Office

The Victims and Survivors (NI) Order 2006, the legislation that defines a victim of the Troubles, makes no distinction between paramilitaries and innocent victims.

Victims’ Commissioner Judith Thompson faced criticism in the summer when she proposed that pensions were paid in line with that legislation, with former paramilitaries eligible to apply.

However, the Government subsequently made clear that payments would not cover former terrorists.

It is understood that proposals currently being drawn up by Northern Ireland Office officials will not use the 2006 Order’s definition of a victim.

They will instead include an eligibility criteria that would automatically rule out anyone who received a conviction for the incident they were injured in.

That still leaves a question mark over the status of injured paramilitaries who were not convicted.

The Government will assume a legal duty to draw up and introduce the scheme if Stormont is not restored by October 21.

It will be required to implement the scheme by the end of May 2020.

There are plans for a public consultation exercise on the proposals in the coming weeks.

A Northern Ireland Office statement added: “Legislation would then be put before Parliament by the end of January and the scheme would open for applications once practical arrangements have been made.

“We would intend this scheme to support people seriously injured in Troubles-related incidents through no fault of their own.

“If the Executive is not restored by 21 October, we will provide more information on the consultation shortly.”

PA

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