Belfast Telegraph

No excuse for further delay: Abuse victims want Bradley to act on compensation

Karen Bradley
Karen Bradley

A group representing victims of historical institutional abuse said Karen Bradley has run out of excuses to delay compensating victims.

Jon McCourt, chairman of the North West Survivors Group, was speaking after Northern Ireland's political parties sent a letter to the Secretary of State responding to questions surrounding the compensation.

She outraged victims last month when she suggested that compensation should become part of the talks aimed at restoring Stormont.

Mr McCourt said when Mrs Bradley received the response there could be "no excuse for further delay".

Mr McCourt told BBC Radio Ulster that he had seen parts of the letter expected it to be with the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) on Monday morning.

"Here's the clarity, give us a response today, tell us that you're willing to bring this straight to Westminster and put it on the table and have it actioned. That's all we're waiting for," the survivors spokesperson said.

"This answers the issues that were originally raised and I think it would be an extreme act of bad faith to decide 'ok, but we haven't got the answer to this one'.

"If she's going to go ahead and seek delivery on this then the job that she's supposed to have done will be done."

Mr McCourt urged Mrs Bradley to compensate victims before she departs the Northern Ireland Office - as it widely expected after Theresa May steps down as Prime Minister.

"She's in the final throes of her term of office as Secretary of State, unless she resigns she's there until a new Prime Minister is appointed and we're saying 'use every minute that you have to get this done,'" he continued.

Jon McCourt (Liam McBurney/PA)
Jon McCourt (Liam McBurney/PA)

"The answers to the questions now exists, Karen Bradley has no excuse for further dithering on this, we don't want to see the expectations of people built up to be pulled out from under them again."

He said he felt the situation was being used to force political parties to work together and reach solutions.

Mr McCourt said he did not think it would be appropriate for the compensation to be funded from the block grant that the UK government pays into Northern Ireland.

"We're saying no, that's very, very unfair. A year down the line I don't want a woman coming to me in the street and saying 'my child can't get an operation' or somebody says 'my grandfather can't be looked after in a care home because there's no money for it, because you got it'.

He suggested should be paid through a loan from the Treasury - as had happened after the Presbyterian Mutual Society collapse - and said much of the money could be clawed back from institutions involved in abuse.

"I want to see this done, we all want to see this done. I'm cautiously optimistic. I would feel really, really upset and annoyed and betrayed if Karen Bradley decides at this point that this is something she is not going to move forward," the survivors spokesperson said.

A UK Government spokesperson said that Mrs Bradley "welcomed the progress made" and was waiting to receive formal feedback.

“She is determined to do everything in her power to ensure that the victims and survivors get the redress they deserve as quickly as possible,” the spokesperson said.

Northern Ireland's parties have recommended that victims of abuse should receive £10,000 instead of the proposed £7,500 and that relatives of those deceased should receive 100% of an award for compensation.

In January 2017 an inquiry led by Sir Anthony Hart found widespread and systemic abuse in children's homes across Northern Ireland.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry studied allegations of abuse in 22 homes and other residential institutions between 1922 and 1995.

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