NI Secretary says Stormont must not ‘play games’ over Troubles pension funding

Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (NI), Brandon Lewis, has said that Stormont’s Department of Finance must not “play games” over the funding of the Troubles victims’ pension scheme.

As reported by the BBC, Lewis told the House of Commons that it must ensure that progress on funding the scheme is “not diverted”.

“This is a devolved matter and devolved matters are funded by the block grant," he continued.

“The Department of Finance and NI Executive also need to step forward and get the Independent Fiscal Council (IFC) organised to provide advice and the scrutiny and to help them on these kinds of budgetary matters.

"The Department of Finance need to ensure they do not play games with victims and their pensions and ensure money is made available to the Department of Justice to get on with delivering the programme.”

Stormont and Westminster have argued over who is responsible for funding the scheme, with Northern Irish executive ministers arguing that as the scheme was passed by Westminster, it should be responsible for payments.

In August 2020, the High Court in Belfast ruled that the NI Executive Office was acting "unlawfully" in delaying the introduction of a pension scheme for victims of the Troubles.

The NI Executive Office has since designated the Department of Justice to administer the pension scheme, with costs of up to £800m estimated.

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