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Executive could be formed after poll to implement Hart recommendations, UUP says

Mike Nesbitt says conclusions of report into child abuse in church and state run homes could be approved by a temporary Executive after election

By PA Reporters

A ministerial Executive could be formed after Northern Ireland's elections solely to implement the Hart child abuse inquiry's recommendations , the UUP leader said.

The public probe found evidence of widespread harm at residential homes run by churches and the state over many decades and recommended compensation be paid. Political uncertainty has left a major question mark over when that will happen.

Some survivors gave evidence to a Stormont committee on Thursday and paid tribute to inquiry chairman Sir Anthony Hart.

Margaret McGuckin, a campaigner and former resident at Nazareth House in Belfast, said: "He is our St Anthony of the sacred heart."

Sir Anthony's report recommended compensation worth up to £100,000, funded by state and voluntary institutions responsible for the residential homes where the harm occurred, with payments beginning later this year.

The head of the civil service has said only a meeting of the Executive will suffice to act on Sir Anthony's proposals.

Negotiations are expected after the March 2 poll which could delay the formation of a new powersharing administration.

UUP leader Mike Nesbitt said it could meet to discuss this one pressing issue.

"We are not saying the Executive needs to exist for longer than five minutes.

"If there are other issues leading to long negotiations that can happen."

The HIA investigated physical, emotional and sexual abuse between 1922 and 1995 and found systemic wrongdoing at most of the 22 homes it considered.

Many of the victims are now elderly.

Those who suffered in state, church and charity-run homes should also be offered an official apology from government and the organisations involved, the inquiry found.

Mr Nesbitt said: "You are vindicated but you have not had redress - you are only halfway there."

Jon McCourt was a resident at St Joseph's Termonbacca in the north west.

He said many of the victims were still broken and mistrustful of the system but more were coming forward now after hiding their secrets for years.

Mr McCourt argued if the recommendations are implemented they can protect children elsewhere in the present day.

"The world owes Anthony Hart a debt for that," he said.

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