Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW) is seeking an urgent explanation from the Northern Ireland Executive and the Government as to why the new Victims’ Compensation Scheme will not be introduced at the end of May.

The scheme would make payments of between £2,000 and £10,000 each year to innocent victims of terrorism.

UHRW Advocacy Manager, Axel Schmidt, said: “This is a body blow. It comes just ten days before the scheme is scheduled to go ‘live’ and we’d like to know why it won’t happen on time?

“Victims will be massively disappointed and once again will feel let down. There seems to be a spat between the Northern Ireland Executive and the Government over funding and it is something that should have been sorted out months ago.

“Innocent victims of violent terrorist attacks are once again left wondering why they should be the ones to suffer. Have they not suffered enough already?

“Let’s get some clarification from the Northern Ireland Executive and Ministers and let’s hear from the Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis MP. What is the real position over funding? Are there other reasons why the scheme is now being delayed? Has the Secretary of State issued guidance to the Victims’ Payment Board regarding circumstances in which a relevant conviction or exceptional circumstances make entitlement to victim’s payment inappropriate? And is there a new date for the introduction of the scheme?

“This is a dreadful setback. It is massively disappointing and today, victims will be justifiably angry and feeling they have been abandoned.”