A senior judge has been appointed as president of a redress board to determine compensation for abuse victims in Northern Ireland.
Mr Justice Adrian Colton described the role as an “honour” as he expressed hope of getting down to work quickly.
Work to establish the redress scheme is finally under way after long-stalled legislation was passed at Westminster on the final day of business before Parliament was dissolved ahead of the General Election.
Mr Colton was appointed by Northern Ireland’s Lord Chief Justice, Sir Declan Morgan.
Compensation payments were recommended by a Stormont-commissioned inquiry into historic institutional abuse, chaired by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart, who died earlier this year.
The many victims of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland deserve redress and I will do everything I can to ensure they receive compensation as quickly as possibleMr Justice Colton
Those who suffered abuse in children’s homes runs by the church, state and charities were to be offered payments ranging up to a maximum of £100,000.
Victims who attended institutions where the inquiry deemed that a certain level of abuse was widespread will receive an initial £10,000 acknowledgement payment.
Members of the redress board will then determine what additional compensation victims are entitled to depending on the severity of the abuse each suffered individually.
The board will be made up of other judicial figures, also appointed by Sir Declan, and a range of health and social care experts, who will be appointed by Stormont’s Executive Office.
Mr Justice Colton welcomed his appointment.
“I am honoured to be asked by the Lord Chief Justice to be the president of the Historical Institutional Abuse Redress Board to implement recommendations made by my esteemed friend and colleague Sir Anthony Hart,” he said.
“I have been advised by the head of the Civil Service, David Sterling, that the Executive Office is committed to taking the necessary steps, including the appointment of the non-judicial members of the board and the establishment of administrative arrangements for the compensation scheme, so that I may start this very important work.
“The many victims of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland deserve redress and I will do everything I can to ensure they receive compensation as quickly as possible.”
The compensation payouts have been long delayed due to the collapse of power-sharing.
The recommendation of the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry were published days before Stormont imploded in January 2017, leaving the redress scheme on ice ever since.
Under sustained pressure from victims’ campaigners, the Government intervened in recent months to enact the scheme at Westminster in the absence of Stormont.
Civil Service chief Mr Sterling said Mr Justice Colton’s appointment was an “important step forward”.
“Earlier this week I gave my commitment to victims and survivors that we would be working closely with our partners to enable delivery and I would like to thank Sir Declan Morgan and Mr Justice Colton for their swift provision of support,” he said.
“In my meeting with Mr Justice Colton I outlined the next steps in the Executive Office’s accelerated work programme and these will include the identification of non-judicial panel members of the redress board and the establishment of administrative arrangements for the compensation scheme.
“I have been in contact with representatives of victims’ and survivors’ groups today to advise them of the appointment and will continue to ensure they are kept updated on progress.”
Marty Adams, from campaign group Survivors Together, also welcomed the move.
“David Sterling has kept to his word on speeding up the process of redress and we look forward to working together to see an outcome that is in the best interests of victims,” he said.