Northern Ireland news

Mr Justice McAlinden appointed to Troubles pension board

Mr Justice McAlinden has been appointed to the injured victims pension board.

A SENIOR High Court judge has been appointed to oversee the panel that will help put in place a scheme to pay pensions to injured victims of the Troubles.

Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan announced the appointment of Mr Justice McAlinden as interim President of the Victims' Payments Board yesterday.

Justice McAlinden will assist the Department of Justice with the development of the Troubles Permanent Disablement Payment Scheme.

The Victims' Payments Board will be responsible for determining who is entitled to an annual pension for injury, both physical and psychological, caused by a Troubles-related incident.

The guidance issued by Secretary of State Brandon Lewis earlier this year was criticised by republicans who said it unfairly discriminated against former prisoners.

The Department of Justice was designated as the relevant department in August following a legal challenge by Jennifer McNern, who lost her legs in the 1972 Abercorn bombing.

The legal, medical and ordinary members of the board have yet to be selected and will be appointed by the Northern Ireland Judicial Appointments Commission. A legal member must be a member of the Bar or a solicitor of the Court of Judicature of at least five years standing.

A medical member must be a registered medical practitioner. An ordinary member with appropriate knowledge or experience will also be appointed.

Mr Justice McAlinden was educated at St MacNissi's College near Carnlough and graduated in law from Queen's University Belfast in 1985. He was called to the bar the following year and appointed Queen's Counsel in 2011.

Speaking following his appointment Mr Justice McAlinden said: “I am honoured to be asked by the Lord Chief Justice to be the interim President of theVictims' Payments Board.

"The designation by the Executive Office of the Department of Justice to exercise the administrative functions of the board has allowed the department to start to take the necessary steps including the appointment of the non-judicial members and the establishment of administrative arrangements for the payment scheme.

"As interim President, I will work with the department to develop the scheme which will provide the many victims of the Troubles in Northern Ireland with the payments they deserve.

"I would encourage a speedy resolution to the funding issue which will allow the full implementation of the scheme which the legislation envisages", he added.

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