Northern Ireland

Troubles victims pension advice 'examined' by NIO

Actor James Nesbitt at Westminster, calling on politicians to legislate for a special pension for those severely injured in the Troubles
Image caption Actor James Nesbitt called on politicians to legislate for a special pension for those severely injured in the Troubles

The Northern Ireland Office (NIO) has confirmed that it is examining advice from the victims' commissioner on how to put in place a pension for people severely injured during the Troubles.

NIO minister Lord Duncan told the House of Lords that the government remains committed to delivering on the issue.

Former NI Secretary Lord Hain said the government must "act quickly to rectify an appalling injustice".

He wanted a guarantee to bring forward legislation before the summer recess.

Lord Hain called on the government to act "without delay" to provide a pension for those "who through absolutely no fault of their own were so catastrophically damaged" during the Troubles.

Lord Duncan said he could not give that commitment because officials were working through a number of issues raised by the advice provided by the victims' commissioner Judith Thompson.

The minister told the Lords one of those issues concerns what payments families might be entitled to if their loved one injured during the Troubles has already passed away.

When the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Bruce pointed out that the issue of a Troubles pension has been debated for years, Lord Duncan insisted that the government is "not trying to kick this into the long grass".

Instead, he said, ministers would do all they could to move the matter forward.

The Conservative peer Baroness Altmann suggested the issue of payments to families could be separated, so it does not delay providing a pension to those severely injured victims who are still alive.

Lord Duncan resisted the proposal arguing that the government is making progress on the pension and it is "important to deliver a comprehensive package".

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