Troubles pension was not brought to Executive – Nichola Mallon

Progress towards delivering a payment scheme to victims of the Troubles did not follow discussions at the Stormont Executive, a minister has said.

On Thursday it was reported that Stormont will next week pledge £2.5m (€2.76m) towards preparatory work for the scheme.

Applications had been due to open for the support payments on May 29, but that was delayed over two separate disputes.

Stormont and the British Government are at odds over who foots the £100 million-plus (€110.5m) bill.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin are blocking the appointment of a Stormont department to oversee the scheme, due to a stand-off with the UK Government over eligibility criteria which would require former convicted paramilitaries to go before an independent panel to determine whether they should get the payment.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Paddy Cassidy had been left with severe spinal injuries following a random loyalist gun attack in September 1971 (Handout/PA)</figcaption>
Paddy Cassidy had been left with severe spinal injuries following a random loyalist gun attack in September 1971 (Handout/PA)

Disagreement has also held up the allocation of money to pay for free school meals to qualifying children over the summer.

Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said the issue was not discussed or raised at Thursday’s Executive meeting.

“We had an Executive meeting yesterday, none of these issues were raised so I’m not in ownership of any of the details about any of them at this stage,” she told the BBC on Friday.

“It hasn’t been handled by the Executive because it hasn’t been brought to the Executive.

“Victims have been let down time and time again and I think it is absolutely appalling.”

There has been a long campaign by victims for the support payments, which range from £2,000 to £10,000 a year depending on the severity of the injury.

One of those involved in the campaign, Paddy Cassidy from north Belfast, died earlier this week.

Mr Cassidy had been left with severe spinal injuries following a random loyalist gun attack in September 1971, and was described as not having lived a day without pain.

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