Troubles pension: Brandon Lewis offers legacy money for victims

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An explosion outside BBC Broadcasting House in Belfast in 1974

NI Secretary Brandon Lewis has suggested that money set aside for legacy in the deal to restore devolution could be used to fund pension payments for Troubles victims.

About £100m was earmarked in the New Decade, New Approach deal to cover the cost of dealing with legacy issues.

But now the NI secretary has told the executive the government was prepared to allow flexibility in how it is used.

He said he had taken the "exceptional approach" of offering access to funds.

In a social media post, he said the move would help the executive to manage the early costs of the scheme.

It is estimated the total cost of the pension pay-outs could run to more than £1bn.

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The executive has been locked in a stand-off with the NI secretary of state over how the cost of the scheme should be met.

Stormont ministers argue that Westminster should part-fund the scheme, which was approved by MPs in London.

But Mr Lewis insists Stormont should be able to fund the scheme from the block grant.

Sinn Féin MLA Conor Murphy said he had written to Mr Lewis at the start of March with a proposal to share costs between Westminster and Stormont, but that Mr Lewis had "declined" to discuss it with the executive.

"This is not a constructive approach to finding a resolution for victims," he said.