A pension for Troubles victims should be one of the things discussed during talks to re-establish the Northern Ireland Assembly, Doug Beattie has said.
The Ulster Unionist MLA said the secretary of state should step in and legislate for pension provision if the DUP and Sinn Fein can’t agree to restore the power-sharing arrangements at Stormont.
However, Mr Beattie said, his party does not believe that terrorists who injured themselves “should be given equivalence with those who they set out to kill or maim”.
He said: “The issue of a pension for those who were physically injured during the Troubles has been a bitter tale for many years. It is thought that around 500 individuals would be eligible for financial support due to their Troubles-related injuries.
“A number however, around 10, fall into the bracket of those who were injured by their own hand. The reality is that there has still been no agreement between the political parties in respect to those who should be eligible for such a pension.”
Mr Beattie said the Ulster Unionist Party “has made repeated calls for the pension to be included within the talks,” and added: “This is an issue that will not go away and we owe it to those who would benefit most to find a satisfactory solution. We should take the opportunity to resolve this as soon as possible so that a new Assembly and Executive could hit the ground running with legislation. And if there is to be no new Executive due to Sinn Fein and DUP intransigence the secretary of state must legislate on this issue to help those injured through no fault of their own.”