Stalemate between Stormont and Westminster over victims’ pension funding goes on

Conor Murphy said the Northern Ireland Secretary has refused to meet ministers from the Stormont Executive to discuss the matter.

Conor Murphy
Conor Murphy

A stalemate between the Northern Ireland Executive and Westminster is continuing over a compensation scheme for injured Troubles victims.

Stormont Finance Minister Conor Murphy said the London government should fund the payments because the legislation was passed at Westminster.

It has been estimated the payments could cost £800 million.

Announcing the draft budget for 2021/22 to the Assembly on Monday, Mr Murphy said Secretary of State Brandon Lewis has yet to provide funding for the scheme.

Mr Murphy also said that Mr Lewis refused to meet First Minister Arlene Foster, Deputy First Minister Michelle Lewis, Justice Minister Naomi Long or himself over the matter.

“The Executive is fully committed to delivering these payments and in line with the British Government’s own Statement of Funding Policy, it is the responsibility of the British Government to provide the necessary funding,” he told MLAs.

“I hope that the Secretary of State will meet with Executive ministers to discuss how the significant costs involved, which the Justice Minister has estimated may be as much as £800 million, will be funded.”

Stormont’s department of justice was designated to administer the scheme last September.

It is anticipated it will open for applications in March.

A UK Government spokesperson said: “The Secretary of State has been consistent in his support for the Victims’ Payment Scheme.

“He has always been clear that the devolved funding settlement means that the Executive is funded through the block grant, together with its own revenue-raising capabilities, to deliver its statutory responsibilities, including this scheme.”

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