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The aftermath of a bomb blast in Hill Street, Newry in the 1980's. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
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The long awaited Victims' Payments Scheme for people living with a permanent disability as a result of the Troubles has opened for applications from today.

The scheme is designed to recognise and acknowledge the harm suffered and to promote reconciliation, as well as providing a measure of financial support.

First Minister Paul Givan, deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and Justice Minister Naomi Long have welcomed the opening of the Victims’ Payments Scheme for Permanent Disablement

The First Minister said: “I am pleased that the scheme has now opened for applications to those living with a permanent disablement. Victims have waited too long for this moment and I would encourage all those who are eligible to submit applications to the scheme.

“It has been humbling to engage directly with people who have suffered as a result of the Troubles, and I am aware of the issues that they face on a daily basis. This scheme will give people the practical support and recognition that they deserve.

“It is also important to remember today, those who campaigned for this scheme but who are unfortunately no longer with us. This will be a difficult day for many people and we should not lose sight of that.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said: “Today is a significant moment for those who have suffered permanent disablement as a result of the conflict.

“This has been a difficult and painful road for victims and survivors; I am pleased that the opening of the scheme will allow for the recognition and acknowledgement of that suffering, and provide the financial support they need to help them move forward with their lives.

“I hope that the opening of the scheme will have a positive impact for all who have suffered permanent disablement.  I would encourage anyone who has suffered permanent physical or psychological disablement as a result of the conflict to make an application.”

Justice Minister Naomi Long said: “The Troubles had a severe impact on the lives of many individuals who suffered a permanent disablement.  I trust this important scheme will go some way to recognise the suffering of those individuals and their families.  

“I am particularly pleased that the scheme is now open for applications and I want to thank everyone who has worked hard behind the scenes to get us to this point. I would encourage anyone who may be eligible for a payment under the scheme to consider making an application.

“Today is an important day for all victims and survivors of the Troubles, but particularly for those who campaigned for this scheme with dignity and commitment for so long.  Sadly, some of those are no longer with us and my thoughts are with their families and loved ones.” 

The scheme is being administered by the Victims’ Payments Board. Further details and guidance on eligibility can be found on the Victims’ Payments Board website - WWW.VICTIMSPAYMENTSBOARD.ORG.UK

Ministers restated their assurance that payments will be made to successful applicants as soon as they fall due.

Financial discussions are ongoing with the Westminster Government regarding their funding responsibilities for the scheme.

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