DUP: We’d rather sink pensions scheme than see terrorists get cash

Jeffrey Donaldson
Jeffrey Donaldson

The DUP yesterday reaffirmed its opposition to the idea of paramilitaries receiving any money under a proposed Troubles pension scheme.

The party said that it would rather see no-one getting any such payments than see them end up in the hands of injured paramilitaries, following a report that such an idea was being entertained.

Jeffrey Donaldson MP on Thursday night moved to quash any the claim, stating: “There is no change in our position.”

He said categorically that anyone who had ever committed a terror-related offence would be out of the running for such an award.

Willie Frazer, spokesman for victim’s group Families Acting for Innocent Relatives, welcomed the clarity on the DUP’s position.

One newspaper had on Thursday reported that the party was “considering measures that would pay a pension to a small number of disabled terrorists as well as victims who had no paramilitary involvement whatsoever”.

The DUP issued a statement from Lagan Valley MP Mr Donaldson in response, which read: “Over the last number of months the DUP has been carrying out a series of roundtable consultations directly with victims and survivors and group representatives.

“The clear message from the vast majority of innocent victims is that they would rather there be no pension provision than for perpetrators to benefit. The DUP accepts and supports that position.”

Last year, the DUP issued a list of commitments it was making to Troubles victims, including a pledge to bring a Private Members’ Bill forward.

It would create a “special pension” for those left “severely physically injured”.

On Thursday, the DUP said during the consultation into its proposals, it had proposed exclusions to this entitlement.

“This would mean that, even if a person was not partly or wholly responsible for the severe physical injury, they would still be excluded if they had a terrorism-related conviction or a criminal conviction relating to the Troubles,” it said.

“The DUP will not be proposing or supporting any pension that would benefit terrorists.”

He added that if other Assembly parties back it, Sinn Fein does not have the power to block the Bill alone.

He told the News Letter it is his hope the Bill will be in force before the next Assembly elections.

Mr Frazer was asked if it was relief to hear this stated so clearly, and said: “Very much so.

“People need to understand this is more than just about a pension. This is about the issue of right and wrong.”

Last May, when the consultation into the matter appeared, The DUP said: “Many of those who have been severely physically injured are now entering pensionable age; however, many have lost the ability to accrue occupational pension rights as a result of losing their careers to chronic ill health.”

Though some support schemes exist, there was a call for “a longer-term and more secure financial settlement”.