Senior DUP MP 'hopeful' for Treasury funding for Troubles pensions

A senior DUP MP is “hopeful” that the Treasury will be “forthcoming” in funding a pension scheme for victims of the Troubles.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, the DUP’s Westminster leader, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, emphasised that victims had already been waiting too long for the payments.

“The next financial year begins in April,” Donaldson commented, “So the sooner we can get a commitment to fund the scheme, the sooner the innocent victims can start to receive their payments.

"Frankly, they have been waiting too long already, and I hope that the Treasury will recognise the need to provide this funding as soon as possible.

"We would hope that the Treasury will be forthcoming with funding,” he stated.

Whilst legislation was passed in Westminster last year (2019) to establish the new compensation schemes, it is expected to be administered by the Stormont Executive.

However, the minister ruled out any involvement from the Dublin government, adding: “As far as I am aware, none of the victims are within the jurisdiction of the Irish Republic, so I believe that this is a matter for the UK government."

Donaldson repeated this message while speaking to the BBC, adding: "I think it would be wrong to put paying that compensation on the Northern Ireland Executive.

“It doesn't have the budget for this. The money for the executive comes from the Treasury, so ultimately this does go back to the Treasury."

The issue of sourcing funding for the Troubles and historical abuse survivors schemes was also recently raised as a "matter of some urgency" at a Stormont committee, with the costs for the schemes estimated to be in excess of £60m.

This follows the recent announcement that a judge-led board will decide who will qualify for the government payment and how much they will receive, with the victims’ commissioner, Judith Thompson, stressing the need for theses to be “handled sensitively”.

Donaldson reiterated that “there will be an assessment process built in” to resolve eligibility disputes, with many of these potential disputes due to the fact that anyone injured as a result of their own actions will not be eligible for the scheme.

"There will be a mechanism for dealing with such cases built into the regulations which will govern the scheme,” he explained.

The UK government initially launched a consultation to create a ‘victim’s pension’ of up to £10,000 per year in October 2019, with applications for the scheme expected to open from the end of May 2020.

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