People living with severe and permanent physical and psychological injuries as a direct result of the Troubles today moved a step closer to persuade Government to legislate for a pension. Publication of this advice progresses the agreement of local politicians to support an acceptable way forward to implement the proposal for a pension as outlined within the December 2014 Stormont House Agreement.
Recipients of the pension are people who will have been unable to work or earn their own pension due to their conflict-related injury. The pension will provide a degree of financial security while recognising the acute and enduring harm suffered by individuals and their families often for many decades as a consequence of the legacy of the Conflict.
In publishing her advice to Government highlighting the urgent need to implement a pension for the most severely and permanently injured, Commissioner Judith Thompson recommended it be paid in a tiered approach according to the severity of injury and back dated to the December 2014 Stormont House Agreement.
It also allows for the pension to be passed on to a spouse, dependent or carer for their lifetime and qualification is extended to those injured but not living in Northern Ireland.
Speaking in Stormont today at a publication event attended by those who have contributed to her advice. Judith Thompson was clear that legislation had to be passed and in the absence of Stormont then it should be passed in Westminster.
“While there are political sensitivities around eligibility for a pension this move has the support of all political parties in Stormont and in Westminster and I am clear that these recommendations are a fair and reasonable response to supporting the needs of those who suffered the most,” she said.
“There is now a moral obligation on government to ensure this modest pension arrangement is introduced as quickly as possible to allow those people who qualify to access it as quickly as possible. Their suffering increases by the day and their time is running out.
“My updated recommendations have been fully informed by advice from the Victims and Survivors Forum, our Pension Working Group, Dr Ciaran Mulholland, Consultant Psychiatrist and Spence. In particular, I want to thank the WAVE Injured Group, the WAVE Trauma Centre and Stuart Magee for their excellent research on this issue.
“The determination, resilience and endurance of victims and survivors in the face of the most adverse circumstances is inspirational and the implementation of this Pension is the recognition they deserve. We cannot allow this to continue to be a political football and the government cannot kick this issue down the road any longer.”