The Executive Office has been urged to end its “staring contest” with the Government over who pays for the pension of Troubles victims.
Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie, vice-chair of the Executive Office’s watchdog committee, has said a lead department at Stormont must be selected to move the process forward.
After legislation was passed at Westminster in January, applications for the scheme were supposed to open today. Instead, the process has been delayed as Stormont and Westminster row over who will pay the estimated cost of £100m.
Victims have now warned they will be taking legal action.
Mr Beattie said: “There is now a staring contest going on between the Executive Office and the UK Government and this cannot be allowed to continue.
“The duty is on the Executive Office to take the Victims’ Payment Scheme forward so they have to show leadership in taking the first steps in resolving this issue. The First and Deputy First Ministers need to step up and designate a department to take the lead on delivering the administration.”
Mr Beattie said this would allow for the preparation of a business case. “Just continuing the current chicken and egg argument only prolongs victims’ pain,” he said.
He added even if the money was available today, no structures are in place to move forward and called on the Executive Office to do more than just point the finger at Westminster.
An Executive Office spokesperson said: “Ministers have made it clear that they are actively seeking to address all of the outstanding issues. Significant work has been undertaken to date on the delivery structures.
“Security of funding is fundamental to progress. Efforts are continuing to resolve this issue as swiftly as possible.”