Belfast Telegraph

Abuse victims’ advocate calls for meeting with Julian Smith over compensation

Brendan McAllister said he wants to speak to the Secretary of State about exploring what measures may be within his power.

NI Secretary Julian Smith has been pressed about acting for victims for historical abuse. (Brian Lawless/PA)
NI Secretary Julian Smith has been pressed about acting for victims for historical abuse. (Brian Lawless/PA)

By Rebecca Black, PA

The advocate for victims of historical abuse in Northern Ireland has pressed Julian Smith for an urgent meeting.

The Northern Ireland Secretary met victims in August and promised to make securing their compensation a priority.

Redress payments recommended by a Stormont-commissioned inquiry into historical institutional abuse have been on ice for over two and a half years due to the collapse of the devolved institutions.

The outstanding payments require enabling legislation at Westminster.

Following the proroguing of Parliament, Brendan McAllister, interim advocate for the victims, has called for an urgent meeting with Mr Smith.

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Brendan McAllister (Paul Faith/PA)

In comments aimed at the Secretary of State, he said: “Despite your own best intentions and earnest efforts to bring forward primary legislation, it is clear that, for the foreseeable future, the legislative path remains uncertain and potentially beyond your control.”

Mr McAllister said he wants to speak to Mr Smith about exploring more immediate measures that may be within his power.

He added: “Victims need certainty and they need timely assistance.”

Dozens of victims have died without receiving compensation that was recommended by the wide-ranging inquiry that reported just before devolution imploded in January 2017.

A redress scheme, in which victims would have been paid between £7,500 and £100,000, was one of the recommendations of the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry (HIA).

A UK Government spokesman said: “The Secretary of State remains committed to supporting victims’ groups and has asked that Historical Institutional Abuse legislation be progressed as a matter of urgent priority.

“He has made very clear his commitment to meeting victims’ groups and the interim advocate regularly to discuss this important issue.”

PA

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