Belfast Telegraph

Victims’ Commissioner: Pension for Troubles injured enjoys broad support

Legislation must be passed at Westminster to introduce a pension for the most severely and permanently afflicted, Judith Thompson said.

Payments to those injured during the Troubles should be tiered depending on how badly hurt they are, Victims’ Commissioner Judith Thompson has said (Liam McBurney/PA)
Payments to those injured during the Troubles should be tiered depending on how badly hurt they are, Victims’ Commissioner Judith Thompson has said (Liam McBurney/PA)

A pension for those injured during the Troubles enjoys broad political support, the Victims’ Commissioner has said.

A clear moral imperative exists to take action and there needs to be implementation now, Judith Thompson added.

The commissioner included a small number of those hurt while carrying out attacks among those eligible to apply for the special payments, prompting a backlash from some victims.

Ms Thompson said: “If some uncomfortable issues need to be worked through in that process, that is what the business of legislation, policy and politics is about and it needs to deliver for these people.”

The number of perpetrators who would be eligible is relatively small but their inclusion has paralysed political progress on the issue for years.

Ms Thompson said legislation must be passed at Westminster to introduce payments for the most severely and permanently afflicted.

She said: “Whilst I acknowledge that there are sensitivities around eligibility for a pension, I am also very conscious that we have broad political agreement that this needs to be done for these people.

“We have a clear moral imperative to do it and there needs to be implementation now.”

The family of a soldier injured in an IRA bombing have said they will reject a pension if former paramilitaries are eligible.

Ms Thompson recommended it be paid in a tiered approach according to the severity of injury, and backdated to the December 2014 Stormont House Agreement.

Her advice was published on Wednesday.

Paul Gallagher was left in a wheelchair 25 years ago when loyalist gunmen in Belfast shot him after they were unable to find his neighbour.

He said: “This pension arrangement will be small in relative terms to the Government budget but will be massive in terms of the good that it can do for the people on the ground.”

Many victims were not able to build up their own pensions over the years due to their own injuries.

The commissioner added that it would provide a degree of financial security and dignity while recognising the acute and enduring harm suffered by individuals and their families, often for many decades, as a consequence of the legacy of the conflict.

She said: “The determination, resilience and endurance of victims and survivors in the face of the most adverse circumstances is inspirational and the implementation of this pension is the recognition they deserve.

“We cannot allow this to continue to be a political football and the Government cannot kick this issue down the road any longer.”

The report launch event at Stormont featured an exhibition of victims and survivors sharing their experiences of being injured during the Troubles.

PA

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