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Immediate compensation payments to Troubles victims ‘moral imperative’

By Rebecca Black, PA

Making immediate compensation payments to victims of Northern Ireland’s troubled past is a “moral imperative”, a senior MP has said.

The payments have been delayed amid a stand-off between Belfast and London over who pays the estimated £100 million cost.

Simon Hoare, chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, has urged the two administrations to work together to ensure compensation payments to victims and survivors can begin immediately.

The Troubles Permanent Disablement Payment Scheme had been due to open on May 29 but no pension payments have yet been made.

Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill have said London should shoulder the cost.

But NI Secretary Brandon Lewis has insisted Stormont should foot the bill.

Mr Hoare has written to Mr Lewis urging that a resolution be found.

He described the situation as “deeply regrettable”, adding that victims “should not be made to endure further delay”.

In the letter, which Mrs Foster and Ms O’Neill as well as the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak were copied into, Mr Hoare said many have “waited too long for compensation”.

“There is a moral imperative for making these payments now,” he wrote.

“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.

“The Government and the Northern Ireland Executive must fulfil their responsibility to victims without further delay. I urge you to convene meetings between HM Government and the Northern Ireland Executive to enable payments to be made at the soonest possible date, and to report the outcome of these meetings to the committee.”