Parties unite to demand action over institutional abuse cash
Northern Ireland's political leaders have joined forces to press new Secretary of State Julian Smith to take action at Westminster on compensation for victims of historical institutional abuse.
Payments to victims of historical institutional abuse were recommended by the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry in 2017 but have not been introduced because of the political impasse at Stormont.
The leaders of the DUP, Sinn Fein, UUP, SDLP, Alliance and the Green Party, plus independent MLA and former Justice Minister Claire Sugden, have signed a joint letter calling on Mr Smith to act.
It calls on the Government "to bring forward legislation, at the earliest possible opportunity, in order to alleviate the concerns of the victims and survivors that there will be further delays".
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Green Party leader Clare Bailey said she was concerned redress for victims could "drop off the radar".
She added: "Thirty people have already died since the publication of the Hart Report.
"We want no more victims to die before receiving recompense for the suffering and trauma they have been through. Let's get this done."
DUP leader Arlene Foster said the issue was one of the most urgent awaiting the new Secretary of State, adding: "This is an issue where there is strong cross-community support and we urged his predecessor to ensure the legislation was brought forward.
"I hope that Julian Smith can make this the first area where he can deliver for the people of Northern Ireland."
Sinn Fein vice-president Michelle O'Neill said: "Today I and leaders of the other main political parties in the North signed a joint letter to new British Secretary of State Julian Smith, calling on him to legislate for victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse.
"The victims have waited too long, with many having died without justice or redress for an awful wrongdoing."
Ulster Unionist MLA Mike Nesbitt said: "If the Secretary of State wants people to believe that the new Government is truly a problem-solving, confidence-building administration, there is no better place to start than with the swift introduction of the legislation."
Paula Bradshaw of the Alliance Party said victims and survivors have been through enough.
She added: "I'm glad to see all parties unite behind the need for movement on this issue."