HIA survivors' fund 'mixed up' with Troubles pension

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A Stormont department has apologised for a mix-up over an estimate for compensation funds for victims.

The Finance Department intimated in a report to the finance committee that £430m was an estimate for the Troubles victims' pensions.

However, it was in fact the estimate for survivors of historical institutional abuse.

TUV leader Jim Allister described the error as "shameful and unacceptable", with the department apologising.

Mr Allister said an explanation had only been given to the committee on Thursday evening.

"A better explanation than the one proffered in the letter - that it was an 'unintentional error' - is required," he said.

"Once again innocent victims have been let down. The prospect of the pension issue being resolved has been dangled before them only for it to be snatched away.

"What a complete shambles."

Apology

The error was made at a meeting of the finance committee on Wednesday 24 February.

The department issued an apology for the error and said it had taken steps to ensure the committee was made aware of the mistake.

"This figure relates to Victims of Historical Institutional Abuse, not the Victims Payment Scheme for Permanent Disablement," a spokesperson said.

"When appearing before the Finance Committee on 24 February officials incorrectly advised that this related to Victims Pensions.

"The Department has written to the Finance Committee to apologise for the error."

There is an ongoing debate over who should foot the bill for payments made to victims of the Troubles, with Stormont ministers saying it should be Westminster and vice versa.

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