This Government is deeply conscious of the enduring suffering and hardship that survivors of Troubles-related attacks bear. The Government has always sought to acknowledge and address the legitimate needs and expectations of victims’ families and survivors of Troubles-related attacks in this jurisdiction.
The Deputy will be aware that a number of measures have been undertaken by the Irish and UK Governments which seek to support victims of Troubles-related violence. Those measures have been introduced at different times and have taken different forms. A pension scheme did not form part of the approach in this jurisdiction but rather other measures were introduced.
A substantive measure in this regard was the establishment of the Remembrance Commission in 2003, to administer a Scheme of acknowledgment, assistance and remembrance for victims of the Northern Ireland conflict, and their families, in this jurisdiction. The Commission continued with this work until 2008 and administered Acknowledgement payments, Economic Hardship payments, Displacement payments and Medical payments for victims’ families and those who were seriously injured in Troubles-related incidents in this jurisdiction. The Remembrance Commission also funded memorials such as the one in Belturbet.
On the conclusion of the Commission's term of appointment, special arrangements were put in place to ensure that victims resident in the jurisdiction who require ongoing medical treatment for injuries sustained in bombings and other incidents arising from the Troubles may have these costs reimbursed through the Victims of Crime Office of my Department. This scheme continues to this day.
The Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal makes awards to people who have suffered an injury sustained within the State on or after 1st October, 1972. The tribunal considers applications from people who suffer a personal injury or death as a result of a crime of violence. Ex-gratia compensation may be awarded on the basis of any vouched out of pocket expenses, including loss of earnings experienced by the victim or, if the victim has died as a result of the incident, by the dependents of the victim.
In terms of other supports, the Reconciliation Fund, operated by the Department of Foreign Affairs, was established in 1982 and provides grant support to organisations working with victims and survivors of the Troubles, where it is considered that proposed projects have the potential to promote reconciliation in line with the particular eligibility criteria of the Fund.
Irish Departments have also provided co-funding for projects under the PEACE III programme (2007-2013), and, under the PEACE IV programme (2014-2020) which aims to support peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland. Funding of €17.6m under PEACE IV is provided for the Victims and Survivors Service project which aims to improve the health and well-being of victims and survivors and to support marginalised individuals and communities that that have suffered as a result of the Troubles. This action is delivered by the Victims and Survivors Services in Northern Ireland which provides funding supports to organisations to employ Health and Wellbeing Case Managers, Health and Wellbeing Caseworkers, Advocacy Case Managers and Advocacy Caseworkers for victims and survivors irrespective of their place of residence.
Finally, in accordance with the commitment given in the Stormont House Agreement 2014 to seek an acceptable way forward on the proposal for a pension for severely injured victims in Northern Ireland, in 2020 the UK Government published the Victims’ Payments Regulations to provide for the Northern Ireland Troubles Permanent Disablement Payment. The scheme is for those permanently physically or psychologically injured through no fault of their own during the Troubles in Northern Ireland. It is available to anyone, regardless of nationality or residence, who was injured in a Troubles-related incident in the United Kingdom. It is also available to British citizens or people of Northern Ireland who were injured in a Troubles-related incident in Europe. The Scheme opened for applications on 30 August 2021.