SDLP South Down MLA Colin McGrath has welcomed the opening of the long-overdue Troubles pensions scheme for people injured during the Troubles.
Applications to the Troubles Permanent Disablement Payment Scheme open from 12pm on Tuesday.
Executive Office Committee Chair Mr McGrath said:
“That victims will now benefit from this long-overdue scheme is to be welcomed, but it is deeply regrettable that it has taken so long to get to this stage. People injured through no fault of their own have been repeatedly let down by both the British Government and Sinn Féin and the DUP. Even today as the scheme opens there is uncertainty around how it will be funded. Costs have been estimated at over £1bn and the British Government has refused to pay its fair share of that figure. We cannot march victims and survivors up to the top of this hill only to let them down again.
“I’m also concerned that scandal-hit company Capita will be administering this scheme for the Department of Justice and carrying out assessments of victims. This company has repeatedly proven itself unfit for such tasks and there can be no repeat of the humiliating and degrading experiences countless Personal Independence Payment claimants have been subjected to.
“This scheme should have opened years ago, but political infighting and a refusal to take responsibility has seen it beset by delays. As a result many victims who campaigned long and hard to see this scheme become a reality have now passed on. I can only hope it will comfort their families that their work has not been in vain.
“My thoughts are with all victims today at what has been the end of a long, hard road of campaigning for their loss and suffering to be recognised. They have shown inspirational perseverance and I hope this pension will go some way to making their lives easier as they cope with their injuries.”