Victims abused in church, voluntary and state-run children's homes in Northern Ireland should be offered interim compensation payments before a long-running inquiry in to the crimes is completed, campaigners have urged.
Many former residents of institutions where abuse was committed are now old and cannot wait until the Historical Abuse Inquiry (HIA) finishes hearing evidence and produces an official report to Stormont, charity Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse (SAVIA) warned.
Retired judge Sir Anthony Hart is leading the HIA probe, one of the UK's largest inquiries into physical, sexual and emotional harm to children at homes run by the church, state and voluntary organisations.
The inquiry was formally established in January 2013 by the Northern Ireland Executive to investigate child abuse which occurred in residential institutions over a 73-year period from 1922 to 1995.
However, its investigative work is not scheduled to finish until next summer, with a report due to be submitted to Stormont ministers the following year. This issue of whether victims should receive financial compensation will be addressed in the final report.
The HIA, which sits at Banbridge courthouse in Co Down, is in the middle of its seventh module of work, which is focusing on allegations of historical child abuse at juvenile justice institutions.
SAVIA campaigner Margaret McGuckin said: "We stand together, united as one in asking our government to make an immediate commitment in agreeing to the setting up of proposals to begin the start of an interim redress scheme for those children, now adults, who were put in to the care of church and state-run institutions.
"No more can this government or those who were in charge of abuse victims at the time deny that these abuses happened. Without pre-empting the findings of this inquiry, the evidence that has come out through this HIA inquiry is already, up to now, damning. Abuse, whether it be sexual, physical, emotional or sheer neglect, did occur."
She added: "Time is something many of our people do not have."