The Government appears to be moving away from providing pensions to innocent victims of terrorist actions and may instead be looking at one or more payments, according to Ulster Human Rights Watch Advocacy Service.

The charity says a payment instead of a pension is included in a report drafted by the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) on progress made towards the formation of an Executive which has now been laid before Parliament by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Julian Smith.

In follow-up work since the advice published by the Northern Ireland Victims and Survivors in May, the NIO has prepared ‘detailed advice on the proposed architecture of the scheme.’

This work has looked at who would benefit and who would be excluded, the latter including ‘those injured in a Troubles-related incident and convicted of playing a role in orchestrating’.

The work also examined levels and methods of payments, technical and practical details of the scheme and an appeals process.

If an Executive is not formed by 21st October, the Secretary of State will make regulations by the end of January that will come into force by the end of May next year.

Reacting to the latest proposals, Axel Schmidt, Ulster Human Rights Watch Advocacy Support Manager, said: “There is some confusion as to whether or not we are now talking about a payment or payments or a pension. It would be helpful if this could be cleared up by the Secretary of State or the NIO.

“We have consistently opposed pensions for terrorists who victimised innocent people and take some consolation from seeing an exclusion being built into the scheme. Terrorists injured in a Troubles-related incident, and convicted of playing a role in an attack, can never qualify for a pension or payment. That would be abhorrent and hugely insulting to innocent victims of terrorism.

“Clearly, there is considerable work underway to meet the January and May deadlines, but at this stage, Ulster Human Rights Watch is giving its qualified support to what is stated in this Report to Parliament and we look forward to seeing the end product within a matter of months.”