Belfast Telegraph

Karen Bradley's handling of abuse compensation 'a national disgrace,' says Lord Empey

Members and supporters of the Redress For Victims group were protesting at the Garden Party at Castlecoole. Picture: Ronan McGrade Pacemaker
Members and supporters of the Redress For Victims group were protesting at the Garden Party at Castlecoole. Picture: Ronan McGrade Pacemaker
PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/05/2019 Members and supporters of the Redress For Victims group were protesting at the Garden Party at Castlecoole. Picture: Ronan McGrade
PACEMAKER BELFAST 21/05/2019 Margaret McGuckin of the Redress For Victims Group protesting at Castlecoole, Enniskillen. Picture: Ronan McGrade/Pacemaker
Survivors of institutional abuse stage protest outside garden party hosted by Secretary of State Karen Bradly in Enniskillen. Pic Ben Tucker
Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Karen Bradley

Karen Bradley's delay in compensating victims of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland has been branded a "national disgrace" by a unionist peer.

On Monday, the Northern Ireland Secretary of State met with political parties and abuse victims, where she tabled 11 questions about the scheme that need to be answered before it can be progressed.

The Northern Ireland Office, however, disputed they were questions, instead describing as "discussion points" put to the parties to consider.

The points are contained within a 24-page discussion document setting out responses to the public consultation on the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, which was chaired by Sir Anthony Hart.

It also includes analysis from the Executive Office, however it has been reported that the head of the civil service, David Sterling, was not involved in formulating any questions put to Stormont's political parties.

Victims have accused the Secretary of State of "emotional blackmail" after she told them it was impossible to fast-track legislation through Parliament - but the scheme could be up and running in six weeks if the institutions were restored.

Ulster Unionist peer Lord Empey accused Mrs Bradley of "placing every obstacle in the way" of implementing the recommendations of the Hart Report.

"In addition to posing further questions to the local parties, she says that it would be a long legislative process here at Westminster. Rubbish," he added.

“Both Houses of Parliament are twiddling their thumbs at the moment because of the Brexit crisis. The whips admit that they 'are trying to invent business' to keep both chambers going. It’s mostly random debates and little or no legislation.

“Karen Bradley had no difficulty in trying to force through the recent Northern Ireland (Regional Rates and Energy) (No 2) Bill. It completed all its stages in the Commons in one day and only for a rebellion in the Lords, tried to do the same thing there.

"In the end it was delayed for a week, but recent Budget Bills were put through in one day under emergency procedures.

"Whatever the reason, the victims are being victimised all over again. It’s a national disgrace."

Among the recommendations made by Sir Anthony Hart when his report was published in 2017 were a memorial to victims, a public apology to survivors and a compensation scheme.

Abuse survivors are set to picket a garden party hosted by Karen Bradley in Enniskillen on Tuesday.

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