The Government has confirmed it will legislate for a pension for Troubles victims by next year – but insists it will not be a pension for those involved in orchestrating terrorist acts.
Northern Ireland Office minister John Penrose said: “There is no moral equivalence between a by-stander badly injured in a terrorist explosion through no fault of their own and the people who manufactured the bomb, placed the bomb and detonated the bomb.”
The assurance was made in the House of Commons on Monday in response to a question from DUP MP Emma Little Pengelly, who welcomed the response.
“I have no doubt that those words will be warmly welcomed by victims,” she said.
The pension is set to come into effect by next May, subject to the Stormont Assembly not being reconvened by 21 October.
Meanwhile, a number of victims’ groups called on the victims’ commissioner to step down over the definition of a victim.
The groups said Judith Thompson has neither the “trust nor confidence” of many victims.
The Orange Order supported the calls, and added: “The issue of pensions for terrorist victims should not be delayed any further.”
Ms Thompson published her advice to the Government last week.
In a statement, she said the definition of a victim as laid down in the Victims and Survivors Order 2006 could allow someone who has harmed others to be eligible for a pension.
She described it as “entirely understandable that many people are deeply uncomfortable and indeed angry” at that definition.
However, she said her office operates under that order and cannot make recommendations contrary to it.