Ulster Human Rights Watch is asking all political parties who oppose terrorism at Stormont to state clearly what their position is on the Victims’ Payment Scheme 75 days from the date it was due to be implemented.
The scheme was left in limbo in late May as a result of a dispute over who can benefit from the scheme since the legislation appropriately distinguishes between victims and perpetrators.
Today, the human rights charity, which is based in Lurgan, said it is time the parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly ‘stepped up to the plate’ and announce where they stand.
UHRW Advocacy Manager, Axel Schmidt, said: “We have reached this shameful milestone of 75 days without the Victims’ Payment Scheme being implemented.
“Hundreds of innocent victims of terrorism have been left in a bad place because of the political failure to get on with what Westminster passed into legislation. The Northern Ireland Executive has failed them.
“This failure leaves many feeling they have been re-traumatised, abandoned and shunted to the sidelines as some politicians argue over something that has already cleared all legislative hurdles.
“Ulster Human Rights Watch believe the time is right to call on all parties who adhere to democracy and oppose terrorism to publicly state their positions on the scheme.
“Let’s see if positions are the same as they were in May. If they remain deadlocked, one of the following things could be done: either the Northern Ireland Executive takes the decision to forge ahead with the introduction of the scheme on the basis of majority support or the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland can step in to ensure the administration of the scheme is delivered by Westminster.
“The delay is unconscionable, mean-spirited and reprehensible. It bestows no credit on those who want to amend the legislation to lend legitimacy to terrorists who delivered a lifetime of pain, agony and distress to tens of thousands of innocent victims.
“We are waiting for the political parties who stand on democratic principles to give victims of terrorism the clarity they deserve.”