Call for First Ministers to outline pension plan for Troubles’ victims

The NI Assembly’s Joint First Ministers should outline clearly how they plan on improving the lives of victims of the Troubles, says an MLA.

Wednesday, 14th April 2021, 2:22 pm

Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly was speaking after a High Court case brought by one of the Hooded Men, Brian Turley, was told that the NI Assembly had formally pledged to pay for a Troubles’ pension scheme.

In an ongoing battle since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, victims of the Troubles have been pitched from pillar to post over who will pick up the bill for a pension scheme.

An NI Executive Office letter said ‘the payment is an entitlement as indicated by the court, and regardless of whether it comes from Westminster or from our block grant, it will be paid when it is due’. Plus that First Minister Arlene Foster, Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and Finance Minister Conor Murphy ‘undertake on behalf of their respective departments that payments will be made to successful applicants’.

Press Eye - Belfast - Northern Ireland - 3 March 2017 - NI Assembly Election 2017 Count at Banbridge Leisure Centre for Newry & Armagh and Upper Bann constituencies. Dolores Kelly(SDLP) makes her acceptance speech. Photo by Tony Hendron / Press Eye.

The estimated outlay for the scheme, over the next 20 years, could be up to £1.2 billion.

Mrs Kelly, who is the SDLP’s Legacy Spokesperson said the Joint First Ministers have an obligation to set out how they intend to improve the lives of victims and survivors ‘who have been let down time and again by indecision and delay from political leaders’.

She said: “I welcome the commitment made by Ministers in the High Court that honours the political agreement to deliver a victims pension.

“People who have suffered severe physical and mental injury over the course of conflict here have waited for far too long for recognition and redress.

“There will be many victims and survivors today who will be wary of accepting the word of politicians, however,” said the Upper Bann MLA.

“The failure of political leaders to design and implement a scheme more than two decades after the Good Friday Agreement has left survivors understandably exhausted and vigilant against false hope,” she said.

“The Joint First Ministers should set out how they will meet the needs of victims and survivors, the bereaved and all those who have suffered lost,” said Mrs Kelly.

“Providing support to those who have lived with the physical and psychological scars of conflict should be a unifying ambition of the Executive.

“It is in the common interests of everyone we represent, from all communities, to heal the wounds of our past, meet the needs of survivors and help build a more united future.”

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