Belfast Telegraph

Government to introduce legislation to compensate abuse victims by 'end of year at the latest'

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.
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

The UK Government will introduce legislation to compensate victims of historical institutional abuse by "the end of the year at the latest", a spokesperson has said.

The commitment comes after the Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service David Sterling wrote to Secretary of State Karen Bradley and Northern Ireland's political parties on Thursday to confirm that all necessary amendments to the legislation have now been made.

Mr Sterling requested that the Secretary of State "now take the necessary steps to ensure this is enacted through Parliament".

A UK Government spokesperson said that they will "urgently" consider the legislation and "take the necessary steps to introduce the legislation in Westminster, if this is still the quickest route and the Executive is not restored".

“The UK Government is grateful to the Executive Office for the hard work turning the parties’ decisions into draft legislation," the spokesperson said.

"The Government has committed in Parliament that we will introduce legislation by the end of the year at the latest."

The legislation was initially delayed by the collapse of the Stormont Assembly in January 2017, a public consultation was then held on the findings of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry.

Mrs Bradley previously came under pressure from victims to resign after asking Northern Ireland's political parties for feedback on the consultation, again delaying the compensation.

Sinn Fein deputy leader Michelle O'Neill said that with all outstanding matters resolved the Northern Ireland Secretary must now act to compensate victims.

“The ball is now firmly in Karen Bradley’s court. There can be no more stalling," the Mid Ulster MLA said.

Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Liam McBurney/PA)
Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (Liam McBurney/PA)

“The victims and survivors of abuse, while in care, have waited long enough and Karen Bradley should now immediately put in place the required legal and financial framework to assist them.”

Lat weekend interim victims' advocate Brendan McAllister said that survivors would probably have to wait until at least the autumn before legislation to compensate them is brought before Parliament.

In January 2017 an inquiry led by Sir Anthony Hart found widespread and systemic abuse in children's homes across Northern Ireland and made a number of recommendations, including compensation for victims.

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

Sir Anthony died last week, aged 73, after suffering a heart attack.

The Northern Ireland Office has been contacted in relation to this story.

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