More than 40 applicants for the Northern Ireland Troubles victims’ pension have passed away awaiting decisions, according to recent BBC News NI reports.
The scheme, initiated in August 2021, was established to provide financial support to individuals who sustained injuries during the Troubles. Out of over 6,200 applications, decisions have only been made on 955, with the Victims’ Payment Board distributing nearly £32m so far. The board admits that the process is intricate and the elapsed time hinders record retrieval.
The death toll of applicants awaiting decisions has steadily risen, from one in the first year to 28 in 2023, totalling 43. In response, the board mentioned that nominated partners or carers might receive payments for ten years post the applicant’s death. This follows proposals for bereavement payments to relatives of those killed during the Troubles, as suggested by the Commission for Victims and Survivors.
Noel Downey, a victim and applicant, described the process as “mentally draining,” emphasising the trauma of revisiting past experiences. Echoing this sentiment, Eugene Reavey, another applicant, criticised the slow process, especially for older family members. Kenny Donaldson, representing a victims’ group, expressed the shared frustration and hope for improved efficiency.
The Wave Trauma Centre highlighted delays due to slow information retrieval from statutory agencies and called for process reviews for efficiency. As of December 2023, the board continues to prioritise terminally ill and older applicants, acknowledging the emotional and complex nature of the process while committing to victim-centred operations.