NI: Department of Justice to administer Troubles pension scheme
The implementation of the legacy pension scheme for victims of the Troubles will move ahead following the designation of the Department of Justice as the administrator of the scheme.
The move comes days after the High Court in Belfast ruled that the Executive Office was unlawfully stymieing the implementation of the scheme by refusing to designate a department to administer it.
The Executive Office has now designated the Department of Justice and has agreed to provide grants to establish the administrative arrangements for the scheme.
Justice Minister Naomi Long said: “I regret that this case ever had to reach the courts, but welcome the judgment and am hopeful that the Executive can now move forward together to progress the delivery of a scheme to support those with serious physical and psychological injuries as a result of the Troubles.
“I have consistently said that I was content for my department to be designated to allow people to apply for the scheme and avoid any further delay and I welcome the announcement today that the designation will proceed.
“Preliminary work has already begun within my department to examine the practical details of implementation of the scheme and I am committed to our taking the scheme forward as quickly as possible.
“There will be a number of steps which need to be gone through before the scheme can open for applications, and before payments can commence: however, today’s developments mean work on the new scheme can be advanced in earnest. My officials will keep interested parties informed at each stage and of expected timelines as the work develops.”
However, she added: “Notwithstanding the judgement, it is clear that there remains a lack of political agreement over aspects of the scheme and, in particular, there is an urgent need to resolve the source of funding for the payments.
“I am absolutely clear that the UK government has a critical role to play in this regard and am committed to working with the Secretary of State, Treasury and Executive colleagues to ensure that the necessary funding is in place to support delivery of this important scheme for victims.”