MPs warn Government of its 'moral imperative' to compensate victims of Northern Ireland Troubles

Danielle Sheridan
MPs have written to Brandon Lewis regarding delayed compensation for victims of The Troubles - Jack Taylor/Getty Images Europe

MPs have warned the Government has a "moral imperative" to compensate victims of the Northern Ireland Troubles after a new scheme was delayed.

In a letter to Brandon Lewis, the Northern Ireland Secretary, Simon Hoare, chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, highlighted that the Troubles Permanent Disablement Payment Scheme, which should have gone into operation on May 29th, had been delayed due to a dispute over who should pay the 500 victims who were wounded during the Troubles conflict, which spanned 30 years. 

“There is a moral imperative for making these payments now,” Mr Hoare said. 

“Victims and their families have waited too long for compensation, and many of them are elderly or in ill health. 

“They have campaigned for many years to receive the recognition and redress due to them, and they believed that the matter had been settled. It is unacceptable that they should be made to endure further delay because of political and administrative disputes.” 

1998 Good Friday Agreement

The victims are due compensation in the region of £2,000 and £10,000, however an impasse has prevented that payments as the Northern Ireland Executive believes the Treasury should provide the funding, whereas the Treasury has argued that it is a devolved matter. 

More than 3,500 people were killed and an estimated 40,000 injured during the Troubles.

In an address to the House of Lords last night, Lord Peter Hain, accused the Executive Office of “heartless treatment” of the victims after it “refused to comply with the law” by failing to ensure the compensation scheme was operational.  

Lord Peter called for an “urgent adult conversation” between the two governments to resolve the impasse. 

A UK Government source said it was time the "Executive put their political differences aside and deliver for victims who have waited for far too long for these payments".

"It is as inexplicable as it is disappointing that Sinn Fein continue to delay implementation of the scheme arguing over eligibility criteria which has already been set in legislation, particularly given all other parties are now ready to take this forward," they added. 

Earlier this year Boris Johnson said Troubles' victims would only be compensated if their injuries came about “through no fault of their own". 

The Prime Minister said he had “every sympathy for innocent victims of violence in Northern Ireland”. 

"We've been consistently clear that the principle that those who've sustained injuries it must have happened through no fault of their own," he said.

"That principle will be sustained throughout the negotiations."

A UK Government spokesman said it had "made legislation establishing a victims payments scheme in January - fulfilling its legal obligation".

"The Northern Ireland Executive must now deliver. The Government understands the deep frustration of those who were injured in the Troubles and their families and remains extremely disappointed by the current delay." 

He added that Mr Lewis and his officials "have been in regular contact with the Executive to support them in the progression of the scheme".

"Discussions about funding are not preventing the Executive from being able to take vital steps to unlock its implementation, which it must do urgently."