Belfast Telegraph

Leaders call on Karen Bradley to raise abuse victims’ compensation

Expecting letter: Karen Bradley
Expecting letter: Karen Bradley

By Staff Reporter

Northern Ireland's political leaders have drafted their responses to the Secretary of State in order for her to progress legislation for a historical abuse redress scheme.

The BBC reports that the parties have drafted a letter saying victims of historical institutional abuse should receive £10,000 instead of the proposed £7,500, that relatives of those deceased should receive 100% of an award for compensation - and that an application for those deceased should be dated 1953, as opposed to 2011.

The letter is expected to be approved by the parties and then sent to Secretary of State Karen Bradley.

Last month Mrs Bradley caused consternation when she included the matter in the talks process, something pressure groups said was an attempt to "blackmail" the parties to return to Stormont.

Mrs Bradley rejected that contention, amid calls from campaigners for her to tender her resignation over the issue.

Victims accused her of treating them like a "political football" after she said that a redress scheme could be up and running within six weeks if power-sharing returns - and that it would take much longer to get legislation through Westminster. The Secretary of State then caused further anger when, after the parties had given their response, she returned with more questions.

In January 2017 - just after the collapse of the Stormont - an inquiry led by Sir Anthony Hart found that there had been widespread and systemic abuse in children's homes across NI.

He recommended a tax-free lump sum payment for all survivors ranging from £7,500 to £100,000, and also that a public apology should be made to victims.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry studied allegations of abuse in 22 homes and other residential institutions between 1922 and 1995. These were facilities run by the state, local authorities, the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland and the children's charity Barnardo's.

The largest number of complaints related to four Catholic-run homes.

Sir Anthony's recommendations were stymied by the absence of devolved government, with successive secretaries of state resisting calls to step in, saying it was a matter for the Executive.

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