Time for details on delayed victims’ pension

Human rights charity, Ulster Human Rights Watch, is calling on Ministers to speed up pensions for innocent victims of terrorism following the court pledge by Stormont to pay for the delayed scheme.

UHRW Advocacy Manager, Axel Schmidt, said the commitment by The Executive Office and Finance Minister appears to have brought this sorry chapter over funding to a close, pending further contribution from the UK Government.

Mr Schmidt said: “Now, we must get a firm date for the start of the scheme. The Department of Justice will administer the scheme and we need to hear a clear timetable being given for implementation from Minister Naomi Long.

“Ministers must move with speed to address all outstanding questions. When will they invite applications to be made to the Victim’s Payments Board? What evidence will be required of applicants? What will the different stages of the process be? How long will applications take to be considered? And finally, when will payments be made to victims?

“We assume, perhaps incorrectly, that a lot of the ‘architecture’ of the scheme has been put in place while Belfast and London argued over who funded the scheme.

“What is required now, after such an unnecessarily long, drawn-out and much-delayed process, is a demonstration of generosity and kindness. The best way of doing that is to get the scheme up and running in weeks not months.

“The last obstacle appears to have been removed, although the scheme is almost one year overdue because of political dispute and disagreement. Ministers have definitely not covered themselves in glory, but they have a last chance to do the right thing and get pensions to people who deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.”

Victim’s Payment Scheme Funding agreed

Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW) welcomes the news that the Stormont Executive Office has pledged to pay for the Troubles Victims’ Payment Scheme. Axel Schmidt, UHRW Advocacy Manager says “Innocent victims and their families are greatly relieved to hear this news. It removes uncertainty and doubt and is long overdue. We eagerly await details of how and when the scheme will be rolled out.”

Call to NI parties to ‘berate and embarrass’ Government over Libyan compensation

Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW) is calling on local political parties to keep berating and embarrassing the Government over its failure to secure compensation for victims of Libyan-backed atrocities.

UHRW Advocacy Manager, Axel Schmidt, said: “The Government’s track record on delivering compensation for innocent victims of acts of terrorism enabled by the Gaddafi regime is shameful and morally indefensible.

“Victims of Semtex bombs and armaments supplied to PIRA by Gaddafi are not so much shunted to the back of the queue as shoved into the ‘forgotten’ box.

“It seems the Government wants them to go away and those of us who care simply cannot believe any British Government would treat its people in such a cavalier and callous fashion.

“It is heartless. It is callous. It is monstrous. Ulster Human Rights Watch is calling on all Northern Ireland parties who care about the plight of innocent victims of terrorism to berate and embarrass a Government that doesn’t care.

“This Government should be called out at every opportunity, whether on the floor of the House of Commons or in Select Committees. We demand answers. The big question is why the Government won’t do what the American, German and French administrations have already done in securing millions of pounds in compensation for their victims of Libyan-backed terrorism.

“It’s time the Prime Minister got a grip on this intolerable situation and showed compassion to British people, particularly those in Northern Ireland, who suffered appallingly at the hands of PIRA terrorists using Libyan explosives and armaments to inflict pain and suffering on innocent people.”

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