Sinn Fien delay of Troubles pension ruled 'unlawful'

A judge has ruled that The Executive Office is acting unlawfully in delaying the introduction of a compensation scheme for injured victims of the Troubles.

A legal challenge was brought jointly by Jennifer McNern - who lost both legs in a 1972 bombing - and Brian Turley - one of the "hooded men" who were arrested and interrogated by the British Army in 1971.

The payment scheme should have opened to applications at the end of May, but it has been in limbo due to a dispute between Sinn Fein and the Government over eligibility criteria that are set to exclude anyone convicted of inflicting serious harm during the Troubles.

Sinn Féin claims the scheme would be discriminatory and would potentially exclude thousands of people from the republican community.

Following the ruling, the Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill has said she will nominate a Stormont department to progress a compensation scheme.

In a separate row, the Stormont administration and the UK Government have been at odds over who should pay for the scheme.

In a scathing judgment delivered in Belfast High Court, Justice McAlinden said the Executive Office (TEO) was under a "clear, unqualified and unconditional obligation" to designate a Stormont department to take forward the scheme by establishing a victims payment board by May 29.

The judge said any argument to the contrary was "obtuse, absurd and irrational".

He dismissed as "nonsense" a TEO contention that the court should not involve itself in what it claimed was a political dispute.

The judge said TEO was deliberately stymieing the introduction of the scheme in a bid to pressure Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis to change the terms of the scheme.

He said TEO's stance was "truly shocking" and demonstrated a "wilful disregard" for, or "abject ignorance" of, the rule of law.

Justice McAlinden said Michelle O'Neill was the only minister in TEO taking this stance, and highlighted how First Minister Arlene Foster, having initially adopted the same position, had now made clear she was willing to designate a department immediately.

Justice McAlinden gave TEO seven days to respond to the judgment.

Reacting to the judgment, Mr Turley said: "How do the Executive explain the profound unprofessionalism of their approach to victims?

"As a survivor of torture, I was left with long-term injuries as a result of the actions of the state.

"The delay in having to wait on my right to a pension can only be described as another form of torture."

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Showing 1 comment

  • Patriot Zeno
    commented 2020-08-27 02:14:34 +0100
    Fact is Ireland was mishandled from the end of the First World War! Irish Nationalist Michael Collins agreed to keeping a union only in the monarchy with the U.K. and other things like protecting the Anglo Irish as British citizens which should have been supported earlier on for southern Ireland! However, the USA put pressure on the U.K. to quit Ireland just like India which wasn’t right!
    PM Michael Collins was murdered by the Communist Sinn Fien with the ok of the Republican faction and the U.K. should have supported his faction in establishing a British backed military dictatorship backed by the Roman Catholic Church of Ireland as a Kingdom not a Republic! Yes, it would have meant some unemployed British WWI soldiers especially Catholic Scots having some jobs fighting probably for the following 5-6 years liquidating the Irish Sinn Fien so it would never be able to raise an army of any size again with a Catholic member of the Stuart family as Ireland’s monarchy but you would have won it all eventually! There would not have been such a bad time in the 1970’s and it would have worked itself out with there being no controversy about Ulster staying British in the North today!
    The Sinn Fien should have been proscribed both in the U.K. and Ireland itself as a communist, terrorist organization! They should get nothing but a bullet while the victims of their terrorism getting the funds they need! Cheers!
British Freedom Party