Ulster Human Rights Watch (UHRW) has stated the draft Northern Ireland Budget fails to provide for a Victims’ Payments Scheme and is therefore “appalling and callous treatment” of innocent victims of terrorism.

There is no provision in the 2021/22 Budget which means victims have been cut adrift with no clear commitment by the devolved Stormont institutions to make long overdue payments.

UHRW Advocacy Manager, Axel Schmidt, said: “Deadlines have come and gone with little or no sense of urgency in finding a resolution over who pays.

“Our victims are pawns in a deplorable political game of ping-pong. It does no one any credit, neither the devolved Stormont administration nor the Government.

“We’d been told by the Justice Minister that we could see payments by March, but in the absence of a funding stream in the Finance Minister’s draft budget, that now seems a forlorn hope.

“This is appalling and callous treatment that should be roundly condemned. Let’s get this political mess sorted out and some financial help offered to innocent victims.

“Surely, it’s within the capacity of our Executive Ministers and the Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis, to come up with a solution that draws a line under this shameful chapter.

“A compromise or temporary fix is urgently required until we can resolve all outstanding matters. We have already asked Mr Lewis for a meeting, which is now urgent. We will also lobby Ministers to see what can be done to get payments to the people who need them and who, for far too long, have suffered in silence.”