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The First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster MLA has welcomed a damning judgement by Mr Justice McAlinden about Sinn Fein’s approach to a pension for innocent victims.

Commenting the DUP Leader said,

“This is a massive win for innocent victims. It was 2014 when we first tried to legislate for this pension. This has been a long journey. I commend their fortitude.

In contrast and whilst welcome, it is deeply disappointing that it took a court judgement to force Michelle O’Neill and Sinn Fein to advance a pension for innocent victims. It is heart-breaking that some who would have been eligible, passed away in recent weeks without seeing this breakthrough.

The refusal by the Deputy First Minister to designate the Department of Justice to process the pension lacked basic compassion. Regardless of Sinn Fein’s view of the scheme eligibility, they should not have side-lined those who were eligible because perpetrators were not.

The Department of Justice will now be able to develop the systems to administer the Scheme. I have already spoken with the Government about ensuring the payments are made once the back-office infrastructure is in place.

I commend both the current and the former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland who have been strong allies in delivering this pension.

As this is a UK wide pension, it will necessitate a budget uplift from the Government. I know those discussions are under way with Treasury.”