Belfast Telegraph

Government pledges to release historical abuse compensation 'as soon as possible'

The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry concluded there should be compensation ranging from £7,500 to £100,000.
The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry concluded there should be compensation ranging from £7,500 to £100,000.
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley is to act to release compensation for survivors of historical institutional abuse as "soon as possible".

It comes after the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, David Sterling, who is in effect running Northern Ireland in the ongoing absence of government asked Mrs Bradley to progress the necessary legislative reform through Westminster after completing a consultation process.

UUP MLA and former victims commissioner Mike Nesbitt welcomed the move.

"There has been enough can kicking over this, the Secretary of State needs to get on with it," he said.

"Victims and survivors waited a very long time for recognition of the abuse they suffered, it is totally abhorrent they are now being forced to wait to see redress."

In response to Mr Sterling's request a spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office said Karen Bradley was determined to see the recommendations implemented as soon as possible.

"She will set out next steps shortly," he added.

In January 2017 - just after the collapse of the Stormont - an inquiry led by Sir Anthony Hart found widespread and systemic abuse in children’s homes across Northern Ireland. He recommended a tax-free lump sum payment for all survivors ranging from £7,500 to £100,000. He also recommended a public apology should be made.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry studied allegations of abuse in 22 homes and other residential institutions between 1922 and 1995.

These were facilities run by the state, local authorities, the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland and the children’s charity Barnardo’s. The largest number of complaints related to four Catholic-run homes.

Sir Anthony's recommendations were stymied by the absence of devolved government with successive secretaries of state resisting calls to step in saying it was a matter for the Executive.

There has been enough can kicking. Mike Nesbitt

Those calls have intensified particularly as some of those victims concerned have passed away following the report's publication.

A legal action last month found the ongoing failure to provide the compensation was not unlawful.

In November last year, the Executive Office opened a consultation process on the draft legislation needed in order to implement the recommendations of the Hart report.

A spokesperson for The Executive Office added: “The Department can confirm that David Sterling wrote to the Secretary of State on May 2 following the completion of the analysis of the 562 responses to the HIA consultation.

“He has formally asked the Secretary of State to progress the legislative reform through Parliament.

“The report on consultation responses will be published on the TEO website on Monday, May 13.”

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