Victims having to challenge delays to a Troubles pension through the courts shows how low politics in Northern Ireland has sunk, a former Secretary of State has said.
The payments, worth up to £10,000 a year, have been delayed amid a stand-off between Belfast and London over who foots the £100m-plus bill.
The scheme had been due to open for applications on May 29.
Last night the Government insisted that delivering it was a matter for the Executive - a position that Stormont's leaders dispute.
Campaigner Alan McBride has warned the Executive could be brought to court by victims for failing to implement the scheme.
Lord Hain, a former Labour MP who served as Northern Ireland Secretary between 2005 and 2007, said the "shameful impasse" had left many victims devastated.
Speaking in the House of Lords last night, he said: "Elderly men and women permanently disabled through no fault of their own by terrorist attacks - some 50 years ago - are confined to wheelchairs, or on prosthetic limbs, or blinded, and live in permanent pain. And because of underlying medical conditions as a direct result of their injuries, they now also live in constant fear of contracting Covid-19.
"They had been expecting a pension to help them better survive in the last period of their lives, backdated to the Stormont House Agreement of December 2014.
"But then they discovered (last month), days before the scheme was due to commence, that nothing had been done. As you would expect they are devastated."
Lord Hain added: "How can politics have sunk so low that a severely injured victim, maimed for life in a terrorist atrocity decades ago, has been forced to put the devolved administration on notice of judicial action to force it to honour its moral and legal obligations?"
His intervention came as Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson penned an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Stormont Executive demanding a resolution to the "shameful stand-off".
Mrs Thompson has also written to MPs across the UK to stress that the impact of the dispute is not confined to victims from Northern Ireland.
She said victims had been let down again and their treatment by the authorities was "cruel, callous and insulting".
"They are witnessing a failure to open the scheme and a disgraceful public debate between politicians in Northern Ireland and in Westminster over who should pay," she wrote.
"It has become the ultimate insult to those victims and survivors who campaigned for years to be acknowledged, respected and valued. It is not good enough."
After a long campaign for the support payments, which range from £2,000 to £10,000 a year depending on the severity of the injury, MPs passed legislation last year to establish the scheme.
It was supposed to open to applications on May 29 but its future has been thrown into doubt amid a wrangle between Stormont and the Government over who pays. The Government has insisted it is a matter for the devolved administration to pay for out of its block grant. But Stormont's leaders say the scheme was legislated for at Westminster so that is where the funding should come from.
Yesterday, Secretary of State Brandon Lewis came under pressure from a fellow Conservative MP on the issue.
Simon Hoare, who chairs the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, said making immediate compensation payments to victims was a "moral imperative".
He has written to Mr Lewis urging that a resolution be found.
Mr Hoare described the situation as "deeply regrettable", adding that victims "should not be made to endure further delay".
A Government spokesperson said: "The UK Government made legislation establishing a victims payments scheme in January - fulfilling its legal obligation. The Northern Ireland Executive must now deliver.
"The Government understands the deep frustration of those who were injured in the Troubles and their families and remains extremely disappointed by the current delay.
"The Secretary of State and his officials have been in regular contact with the Executive to support them in the progression of the scheme.
"Discussions about funding are not preventing the Executive from being able to take vital steps to unlock its implementation, which it must do urgently."
The Executive Office was contacted for comment.
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