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Institutions should step forward for abuse victims, says Arlene Foster

Arlene Foster gave a commitment that the money would be found to compensate victims of historical institutional abuse.

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The compensation scheme was among the recommendations in the final report of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (Rebecca Black/PA)

The compensation scheme was among the recommendations in the final report of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (Rebecca Black/PA)

The compensation scheme was among the recommendations in the final report of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (Rebecca Black/PA)

Institutions should step forward both morally and in terms of providing financial redress to victims of historical abuse, Northern Ireland’s First Minister Arlene Foster has said .

It emerged last week that it is planned the first compensation payments will be made this spring.

The payments, ranging from £7,500 to £100,000, were among recommendations following a public inquiry chaired by the late Sir Anthony Hart.

Legislation was passed at Westminster last November to allow victims to receive redress.

Speaking during First Minister’s questions at Stormont on Monday, Mrs Foster said she wanted to pay tribute to the campaigners.

“This has been a long and a difficult journey, and it was their commitment that got us to this point today.

Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry
The payments were among recommendations following a public inquiry (Paul Faith/PA)

“This process took too long, yet I am also pleased for the victims of this terrible abuse that we have got to this point.”

Mrs Foster was then pressed by Sinn Fein MLA Linda Dillon over concerns among victims about where the money to compensate them will come from.

“I want to reassure those victims that the money will have to be found, because we have given a commitment that we will follow through on this report and the many recommendations that were put in place, and we intend to do that,” she said.

“We will engage not only with the Westminster Government but also with the many institutions that have been involved throughout the years on this issue.

“I think it is incumbent upon those institutions to step forward as well, not only in a moral way but indeed in terms of the financial redress as well, and that is something we will be continuing to take up.”

The compensation scheme was among the recommendations in the final report of the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry.

It examined allegations of physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children in residential institutions in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995.

Sir Anthony also recommended that a commissioner for survivors of institutional abuse be appointed.

Mrs Foster said the appointment process for a commissioner is set to open shortly, adding the process should take between three to six months.

The head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, David Sterling, told the Executive Office scrutiny committee at Stormont last week that a “global communications campaign” will be developed to ensure anyone affected will know about the redress scheme.

PA