Belfast Telegraph

No decision made on historical abuse compensation law

Victims of physical, emotional and sexual wrongdoing in residential homes run by churches and the state have been campaigning for financial redress.

No decision has been made on whether a bill compensating victims of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland will become law before Parliament dissolves, a minister said (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)
No decision has been made on whether a bill compensating victims of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland will become law before Parliament dissolves, a minister said (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

By Michael McHugh, PA

No decision has been made on whether a bill compensating victims of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland will become law before Parliament dissolves, a minister said.

Victims of physical, emotional and sexual wrongdoing in residential homes run by churches and the state have been campaigning for financial redress.

The Government has introduced draft legislation in response but the calling of a December election means there may not be enough time for it to be passed.

We will do everything we can to take it forward Robin Walker

Northern Ireland Office (NIO) minister Robin Walker said: “Time is of the essence when it comes to the historical institutional abuse bill and we will do all we can to see its passage before the general election.

“No decision has been made on this bill prior to the dissolution of Parliament yet.

“We will do everything we can to take it forward.”

North Belfast DUP MP Nigel Dodds raised the matter at Westminster.

He said: “We only have literally a few days and hours left.

“Surely he can give a more definitive explanation, surely he can come forward with a definitive commitment, that on this issue he will step forward.

There is cross-party support here in this house, there is cross-community support in Northern Ireland, please, please get on with it Nigel Dodds

“There is cross-party support here in this house, there is cross-community support in Northern Ireland, please, please get on  with it.”

Former senior judge Sir Anthony Hart held one of the UK’s biggest public inquiries into child abuse from a disused courthouse in Banbridge, Co Down.

He recommended compensation and a series of other measures after investigating decades of physical, sexual and emotional abuse at residential homes run by clergy and the state.

Victims have campaigned for years for special payments.

Margaret McGuckin, from Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse (Savia) said: “We are not going to give up, there is a lot to be done.”

She said survivors were refusing to allow the issue to be forgotten about or swept under the carpet.

“We won’t stop until it is done.”

Sinn Fein victims spokeswoman Linda Dillon called on the British government to clarify what impact the upcoming election will have.

She said: “The victims are absolutely distraught at the prospect there might be any delays on getting legislation implemented and redress for victims resolved.

“These victims and survivors, many of whom are in poor health both physically and mentally, cannot be the collateral damage in a chaotic parliament.

“Their hopes have been dashed on so many occasions and we all thought they were finally going to be able to get long-awaited redress for the terrible abuses they suffered at the hands of state and religious institutions.

“Clarification is needed urgently on this to ensure victims receive the redress they are long entitled to.”

PA

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