Belfast Telegraph

Cross-border negotiations over historical abuse compensation

Brendan McAllister
Brendan McAllister

By John Breslin

Officials from Northern Ireland involved in compensating victims of historical abuse in children's and residential institutions are in talks with their counterparts from Dublin.

It comes after it emerged the head of the NI civil service, David Sterling, has written to various religious orders and other organisations reminding them of financial "obligations" to victims.

But Brendan McAllister, the Interim Advocate for victims of historical institutional abuse, would not be drawn on whether some type of indemnity agreement might be reached with the organisations accused by an inquiry of systematic failings that allowed abuse to occur over decades.

"I do not want to be too specific in advance of sensitive negotiations that need to take place between the religious orders and the Executive Office," Mr McAllister said, "but I think it is important, at this stage, to affirm the principle that everyone who carries some responsibility should pay their fair share regarding financial provision for survivors of past wrongs."

He added: "I would certainly hope that any lessons that can be learned from experience in the Irish Republic and, indeed, further afield, will inform the approach to the HIA redress scheme here. In that regard, I am aware of discussions taking place between officials from north and south in recent times. For my own part, I will confer with relevant authorities and sources in Dublin and with victims groups in the North to inform my advice to civil servants and to the President of the Redress Board."

Mr Sterling, in a letter to six organisations investigated by the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry, warned they will be pursued for payment.

The civil service head stated that the six contacted would be "reminded of their obligations" though campaigners noted that funding is due to come from Westminster block money after compensation was finally authorised with the passing of legislation earlier this month.

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Barnardos, the Sisters of Nazareth, the Good Shepherd Sisters, the De La Salle order, Irish Church Missions and the Sisters of St Louis all received letters, according to a BBC report.

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