Eastwood: Political Leaders must unite on victims pension

Social Democratic and Labour Party Leader Colum Eastwood MP has called on Ministers and political leaders to set aside their squabbling and come together to deliver a victims pension.

The Foyle MP has written to the Joint First Ministers, the Secretary of State and the Justice Minister after a ruling by the Court of Appeal which places a legal duty on the Executive Office to fund the scheme.

Colum Eastwood MP said:

“There could hardly be a more stark visualisation of political failure than the sight of victims and survivors forced to go to court to demand a pension that every political party on these islands agrees they should have. And yet we continue to force that on people who have lived with emotional, psychological and physical distress for decades. It needs to stop now.

“The Court of Appeal has confirmed that a legal obligation now exists, where a moral obligation always existed, on the Executive to fund the victims pension. The four week timeline that the court has placed on the Executive should focus minds on the work that needs to be done.

“It is time to stop the squabbling on radio and TV. The First Ministers, the Finance Minister, the Justice Minister and the Secretary of State need to sit down and work through this. People will not understand how the British Government and the Executive can make huge sums of money available over the last 12 months but are arguing over the bill for this important scheme.

“The Secretary of State needs to accept that this scheme, legislated at Westminster, needs additional funding. The British Government needs to face up to its moral obligation to survivors who sustained life changing injuries decades before devolution. A resolution is not beyond us.
“After a difficult and divisive political period, we all have to demonstrate to people that we are capable of putting the interests of survivors first and working together to get this over the line. The SDLP will do anything we can to help. It’s time to work together on this.”

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