Belfast Telegraph

Institutional abuse victims urge James Brokenshire to help them access compensation

By David Young/PA

Victims of institutional abuse in Northern Ireland have urged the Secretary of State to intervene immediately to enable them to access stalled compensation payments.

Campaign group Survivors & Victims of Institutional Abuse (Savia) urged James Brokenshire to act after holding a meeting with the head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, David Sterling.

Mr Sterling met with the Panel of Experts on Redress - a body made up of individual survivors, survivor groups, human rights organisations, academics and lawyers - yesterday afternoon.

In January, a Stormont-commissioned inquiry into abuse committed in church and state run homes in Northern Ireland recommended compensation payments for victims of up to £100,000 each.

But the subsequent collapse of the region's powersharing executive means those recommendations have still not been implemented.

Civil servants are now in charge of Stormont's purse strings but cannot take any new policy decisions.

Mr Sterling emphasised that to the victims campaigners in yesterday's meeting.

In response, Savia urged Mr Brokenshire to intervene and legislate for payments at Westminster.

"The only way that interim payments can be made to survivors is SoS [Secretary of State] to bring immediate legislation," the group tweeted. "We call on SoS and leaders to do so."

After the meeting, Mr Sterling said: "Victims and survivors are understandably frustrated with the current impasse, which has meant they have not seen timely consideration and implementation of the report's recommendations."

He added: "In the absence of an Executive we do not have the necessary authority to implement the recommendations in the inquiry report, however senior officials are continuing to give detailed consideration to the recommendations, conducting all possible planning and preparatory work and holding discussions with stakeholders.

"The Executive Office will bring forward implementation proposals to a restored Executive at the earliest opportunity.

"In the interim, I will write to party leaders to update them on this meeting and this important programme of work."

A spokesman for the Northern Ireland Office said the issue remained a devolved matter, but added: "The Secretary of State has said he will make it one of his priorities if devolution cannot be restored. He would again call on the local parties to get powersharing up and running as soon as possible, so issues such as these can be resolved."

Belfast Telegraph


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