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UDA-linked group says those that carried out Troubles attacks not victims and should not claim pension

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A UDA mural in the Glenfada area of Carrickfergus. Pic Pacemaker

A UDA mural in the Glenfada area of Carrickfergus. Pic Pacemaker

A UDA mural in the Glenfada area of Carrickfergus. Pic Pacemaker

The political wing of the UDA has said those injured while carrying out attacks during the Troubles can't claim to be a victim and should not apply for a pension.

It comes amid a political row over the opening of a pension scheme for those injured during the Troubles.

Stormont and the UK Government are at odds over who foots the £100m-plus bill for the scheme which was to open last month. Sinn Fein has also refused to nominate a department to administer the scheme.

And, in a further twist, funding for free school meals over the summer for vulnerable children has been held up over the disagreements around the Executive table on the pension matter.

Sinn Fein argues that the guidelines discriminate against a large number of people who have any type of conviction.

The UPRG, the political wing of the UDA, outlined its position in a statement. It reiterated its "abject and true remorse" to "completely innocent victims" for their suffering.

It said the purpose of the scheme was to acknowledge those harmed or injured during the Troubles and to promote reconciliation.

And highlighted the guidelines did not preclude anyone from applying to the scheme.

It said: "The current furore around the scheme is one created by Sinn Fein who would seek to conflate and confuse people around the notion of what constitutes a victim.

"We are very clear about this. Anyone who planted a bomb, shot and attacked security services or members of the public, and who in that process of committing those acts were injured, cannot claim to be a victim.

"This is clear in a moral sense and we would submit it to be clear in a legal sense.

"All delays in delivering pensions to victims is a further insult and adds to their suffering.

The statement adds: "To further delay the pension scheme is an attempt by Sinn Fein to re-write history and in some way justify the IRA murder campaign which is outrageous and deeply offensive."

MPs passed legislation last year to establish the scheme which had been due to open to applications on May 29.

Payments, of between £2,000 to £10,000-a-year depending on the severity of the injury were to be paid out to those victims of the Troubles.

On Wednesday the Commissioner for Victims Judith Thompson called for an end to the delay in the scheme.

Appearing at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee yesterday, Ms Thompson said she accepts the “political decision” that people injured at their own hand should be excluded from a Troubles Pension.

She described the long-running debate around the issue as “unlikely to reach a helpful conclusion”.

Sinn Fein has been approached for comment.

Belfast Telegraph