Some 45 applicants to the Troubles Permanent Disablement Payment Scheme have been recommended for payment.

As of yesterday, the Victims' Payment Board led by Mr Justice McAlinden had received more than 2,600 applications since it started operating last August.

Secretary to the board Paul Bullick said they now have 70 board members, and once the newest appointments are fully trained, they hope to speed up the pace at which applications are dealt with.

He urged that applicants consider requesting assistance from any of the five victims' groups which have been funded to help with the process.

While most of the applications have been received from people living in Northern Ireland, 198 have been from Great Britain and 28 from the Republic of Ireland.

A small number of applications have come from people now living overseas, including nine from Canada, eight from the USA, six from Australia, three from Spain, two from Sweden, one from France, one from Germany, one from Thailand and one from South Africa.

Of the 2,600 applications so far, 900 cases have been passed to Capita for medical assessment, 200 have been returned to the board, and more than 110 determinations have been made.

Mr Bullick said around 45 have been determined have been recommended as eligible for payment.

The scheme was set up after years of campaigning by victims to distribute recognition payments for those seriously injured through no fault of their own in a Troubles-related incident.

It covers violence related to the Northern Ireland Troubles between 1966 and 2010.

Payments range from £2,000 to £10,000 per annum, or those over the age of 60 can choose to receive a lump payment.

Mr Bullick said the board received the first application within 15 minutes of the online portal opening last August.

"To date we have received just over 2,600 applications, around 10% of those have been applications from outside of Northern Ireland," he said.

"Good progress has been made, we now have a full board in place of approximately 60 members, and we have a staff team of around 70, but we do hope to increase that significantly over the next 12 months to allow us to deal with more cases and present more cases through to the panel."

He added: "I recognise that the application process can seem both complicated and daunting. The Victims' Payments Board does not want that to be an impediment to anyone making an application to the scheme and so we have ensured that free advice and support is available to those who need it.

"I would strongly encourage anyone who has suffered a permanent disablement as a result of a Troubles-related incident, and who requires assistance, to get in touch with one of the groups providing this free service to victims and survivors.

"I meet regularly with the sectoral support groups and am fully assured of their commitment to providing the necessary support and assistance to applicants to this important scheme."

The five victims' groups who have been funded to help with applications include the WAVE Trauma Centre, The Ely Centre, Relatives For Justice, the South East Fermanagh Foundation and the Ashton Centre.