Belfast Telegraph

Pension plea for Troubles' victims

First minister Peter Robinson has urged the assembly to authorise a special pension for those severely disabled by the Northern Ireland conflict.

Former victims' commissioner Kathryn Stone called on ministers to act in May to help those suffering from the fallout of the 30 years of violence.

Mr Robinson noted some had received inadequate settlements at the time because they were not expected to live so long.

He said: "Therefore I think the assessments were less than was necessary for them to have a full life for a prolonged period of time.

"My colleagues and I have been consulting on a bill that would come before the assembly that would provide a pension for those who are severely disabled. That is an important piece of legislation.

"I hope it receives the support of the house and it would augment whatever previous settlement there has been with them."

The DUP leader told the assembly nothing could compensate for the injury caused but that assistance was needed for those left in severe pain, anguish and facing a prolonged period living with disability.

He said victims were denied employment or the opportunity to build up national insurance contributions and were at a disadvantage from the rest of the community. "So I think it is an important piece of legislation."

An advice paper from victims drawn up earlier this year makes four recommendations, including a pension and arrangements for official apologies to all victims.

At the time Mr Robinson said he would not be "putting my hand to any proposal that is going to reward those that have been engaged in terrorism".

Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said he supported Ms Stone's proposal for a pension for those severely injured in the Troubles and said that no matter who the victim was, their families deserved support.

Paul Gallagher from the WAVE Trauma Centre's injured group said: "The injured group at WAVE has been arguing for a pension for the severely injured for a number of years and we very much welcome progress on making it happen.

"We have been lobbying the political parties on the issue and have received a good hearing and a positive response. We hope that all parties will come together to make it a reality."


From Belfast Telegraph