Ulster Human Rights Watch, which campaigns on behalf of innocent victims of terrorism, has welcomed the decision of the High Court to order the deputy First Minister to stop blocking the implementation of the Victims’ Payment Scheme.

Reacting to the ruling, UHRW Advocacy Manager, Axel Schmidt, said: “This ruling leaves no room for doubt and no justification for delaying the scheme any longer.

“The Executive Officer (TEO) has been ordered by the High Court to get on with nominating a Department to oversee the scheme. The Department of Justice has indicated its willingness to perform this function, so it’s now time to get on with the work.

“I do hope there will be no more obstacles placed in the way of the scheme which was due to be introduced in late May. Months of delaying tactics over who qualified as a victim have resulted in further anguish for innocent victims of terrorism and that was a deplorable and mean thing to do.

“The Guidelines published by the Government state the criteria to be adopted for awarding annual payments and a Panel will make determinations.

“What’s needed now is a statement from the Executive Office that Ministers will publish a definite timeframe that lets innocent victims know when they can expect what they are entitled to under the scheme.”