SURVIVORS of the Aberfan disaster hailed the announcement of a £2m fund for the village as "final closure" on the tragedy.
The money will go towards the upkeep of the memorial to the 116 children and 28 who died on October 21 1966 when tons of black slurry slid from the coal tip onto Pantglas school.
First Minister Rhodri Morgan said it would provide an annual income of about £100,000 to look after the memorial garden on the site of Pantglas school and the village cemetery.
An educational charity will also get £500,000, generating about £30,000 a year for local schools.
The pay-out brings to an end a long-running campaign by the families of the victims for the return of money from a charitable fund which the Wilson Government insisted should be used to help clear the tip.
That money had been sent by well-wishers around the world, and Wilson's decision caused huge resentment. In 1997 the money he deducted from the fund was returned by then Welsh Secretary Ron Davies, but without interest.
The much bigger pay-out announced by Mr Morgan yesterday was described as "justice" by the families.
Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney AM Huw Lewis said, "We asked Rhodri for justice for Aberfan and we got it."
Mr Lewis, whose sister Alyson was one of the surviving children plucked from the slurry, said, "This is obviously tremendous news for the village - and I pay tribute to the trustees of the Aberfan Memorial Charity who I have worked alongside to secure this funding. We should be clear from the outset about what this money is for and what this means for local people. It is not just a means of safeguarding the legacy of that tragedy 40 years ago - it is an investment in the future of Aberfan.
"Yes, it will help us remember the lost potential, but it will also provide the opportunity to invest in the local schools today."
Jeff Edwards, 48, who survived the disaster, said, "We're delighted they have come up with the money. Representations were made at the time of the 40th anniversary, and we're delighted they have given us £2m back. It brings a closure to the incident."
He said the money would relieve the financial pressure on the trustees, who were faced with high maintenance costs for the memorial garden.
Oxford historian Professor Iain McLean, whose 2000 book Aberfan: Government and Disasters outlined how the Wilson Government used the charitable funds to pay for the removal of the coal tips, said, "This is fantastic news. I congratulate Huw Lewis and the trustees of the Aberfan charities for bringing this about. After 40 years, a long-standing injustice has been righted."
Speaking at the memorial garden in Moy Road, Aberfan, the First Minister said the town saw a "tidal wave of sympathy" after the trauma of 1966.
"But sympathy and solidarity is one thing for those of us at one remove," Mr Morgan added.
"But the pain and grief for those who live in Aberfan is very different. That's the pain of loss itself. It's something completely different when you have had the experience of loss."
Memorial charity chairman David Davies said, "This is a day for looking forward with confidence as both charities are put on a firm financial footing.
"But it's also a time to pause and reflect on the past. The special place which Aberfan occupies in the national psyche was reflected in 1966 and subsequently when there were countless offers of help and support that flooded into the area from around the country and across the world."
The money announced today would be a "huge comfort" to the parents and relatives of those who died, he said.