Theresa May urged to implement redress scheme for N Ireland child abuse victims
Theresa May must immediately implement a promised redress scheme for victims of historical child abuse in Northern Ireland, the Ulster Unionist Party has said.
The collapse of Stormont has meant that victims have been left without any redress, despite promises of a public apology, compensation and counselling following a major public inquiry into historical child abuse at churches, charities and state institutions.
Ulster Unionist leader Robin Swann said that due to the lack of a functioning government in Northern Ireland it is up to the Prime Minister to implement the redress scheme.
His comments come after the chairman of the inquiry into historical child abuse, former High Court Judge Sir Anthony Hart, publicly raised concern over the delay in introducing the scheme.
Mr Swann said that while his party will be working to restore power sharing at Stormont the UK Government "should not hesitate to step in to deliver fairness and justice for the victims and survivors of Historical Institutional Abuse if necessary".
He added: "It is absolutely imperative that the inquiry's findings are implemented, the victims should not face any further delay.
"It is now almost five months since Sir Anthony Hart published the findings of the inquiry which examined 73 years of abuse inflicted on the most vulnerable in our society.
"It is astounding that in that time we have had no Executive in place, to implement the much needed recommendations and recognise the plight of the victims."
Margaret McGuckin, of the campaign group Survivors & Victims of Institutional Abuse (SAVIA), has asked the DUP to raise the issue with Theresa May as part of their negotiations.
Earlier, Sir Anthony said he had taken the "highly unusual" step of writing to all party leaders at Stormont to voice his concern over the delay in bringing forward the redress scheme.
He said the delay was adding to the burden already being carried by abuse victims, many of whom are in poor health.
In January the inquiry into historical institutional child abuse found that children's homes run by some churches, charities and state institutions in Northern Ireland were the scene of widespread abuse and mistreatment of young residents.
Sir Anthony recommended compensation, a memorial and a public apology to abuse survivors.
However, the failure of the region's two largest parties - the Democratic Unionist Party and Sinn Fein - to form a power-sharing government has meant the inquiry's recommendations have not been implemented.
Sir Anthony has now urged political leaders "to ensure that if an Executive is formed that the inquiry's recommendations are implemented in full by it as a matter of urgency".
He said that in the event an Executive is not formed, then it will be for the British Government to carry out all the functions of government in Northern Ireland.