NI Troubles pension scheme further delayed until August

The long-awaited pension payments for seriously injured Troubles victims has been further delayed, the Victims Payments Board (VPB) has announced.

Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 10:39 am
Updated Tuesday, 15th June 2021, 4:46 pm
Belfast bomb victim Jennifer McNern (centre) outside Belfast's High Court with with legal team and members of the Wave Trauma Centre, to challenge delays over Troubles pension. Photo: PA
Belfast bomb victim Jennifer McNern (centre) outside Belfast's High Court with with legal team and members of the Wave Trauma Centre, to challenge delays over Troubles pension. Photo: PA

The scheme had been due to open on June 30, however, it will now begin operating on August 31, VPB president Mr Justice McAlinden said.

Justice McAlinden said the June 30 launch date would have coincided with publication of guidance on how the level of permanent disablement of applicants is to be medically assessed.

“While it remains the intention to publish the guidance by June 30, it is anticipated that the guidance will be complex and detailed and I recognise that it is important that applicants can familiarise themselves with the guidance in advance of submitting an application,” Justice McAlinden said.

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“Over the past days I have held discussions with representatives from the main groups supporting victims and survivors who are likely to be applying to the scheme. I believe this short delay will ensure that the scheme is equitable and fair to all applicants as it will give them, and those who may be supporting them through the application process, time to consider the detailed guidance.

“The Victims Payments’ Board will organise information sessions during July and August to provide more detail on the scheme and the medical assessment guidance in particular.”

The scheme has been repeatedly delayed by a row at Stormont over who will pay the estimated £1.2bn cost (over 30 years) and who will be eligible.

While Sinn Fein has consistently said that all of the seriously injured must be eligible to apply – including those maimed by their own bombs – DUP and other unionists have argued that government money should “not be awarded to victim makers”.

Justice McAlinden said he realises the further delay “will be disappointing to some of the many victims who have struggled long and hard to get the recognition and payments” to which they are entitled.

However, he added: “It is important that applicants and those supporting them should have appropriate time and information to engage effectively with the scheme and familiarise themselves with the guidance.

“The Board feels that to open on June 30 risks causing additional harm by raising expectations that applications need to be submitted immediately after the medical guidance is available.”

Justice McAlinden went on to say: “A key principle of the scheme is to be responsive to the needs of victims and I want to ensure the victims and survivors who have been waiting for the opening of the scheme that all of the diverse aspects of the process are fully effective when it opens for applications.

“The medical assessment guidance and information on the Scheme will be available on the Victims’ Payments Board website which will be kept updated.

“Anyone wishing to register an interest in the scheme or the information sessions can do so by emailing [email protected]

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