Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Abuse victims being treated shamefully

It seems highly likely that legislation to compensate the victims of historical institutional abuse will not be introduced before the summer recess, thus leading to a further delay, according to Simon Hoare MP, chair of the Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee
It seems highly likely that legislation to compensate the victims of historical institutional abuse will not be introduced before the summer recess, thus leading to a further delay, according to Simon Hoare MP, chair of the Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee

Editor's Viewpoint

It seems highly likely that legislation to compensate the victims of historical institutional abuse will not be introduced before the summer recess, thus leading to a further delay, according to Simon Hoare MP, chair of the Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.

It is sadly ironic that his remarks were made only days after the death of Sir Anthony Hart, chairman of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, which recommended an apology, memorial and compensation for the victims when it reported in 2017.

Sir Anthony forensically examined allegations of abuse and mistreatment at 22 homes and other residential institutions run by some Churches, charities and State institutions between 1922 and 1995.

Mr Hoare said that while he wanted it sorted out, it could be months before the matter could go through Parliament, and he has pressed for the issue to be scheduled for the first two weeks of September.

Keen observers of parliamentary procedure will no doubt have noted the conspicuous foot-dragging where the victims of historical institutional abuse are concerned, and will compare it unfavourably with the speed with which proposals to extend same-sex marriage legislation and the 1967 Abortion Act to Northern Ireland were rushed through the Commons last week.

This further delay follows the disgraceful proposal to make the victims and survivors part of the shoddy carrot and stick attempts to restore power-sharing, when their plight is entirely unrelated to devolution. This is even more shocking when one realises that a senior Northern Ireland civil servant was awarded no less than £10,000 for being offended by a portrait of the Queen, which was more than the £7,500 minimum payment recommended by the late Sir Anthony.

This, by any calculation, is little short of repugnant.

Campaigners have been calling for the Government to act in the absence of power-sharing at Stormont, and they are arguing with reason that some survivors are dying off while they wait for action.

While it is invidious to compare historical institutional abuse with same-sex marriage issues or the 1967 Abortion Act, it remains true that both the latter are the result of conscious choices. Being the innocent victim of abuse is certainly not.

If MPs from the rest of the UK are really so concerned about righting what they see as wrongs committed against vocal interest groups in Northern Ireland, then let them prove this by proceeding with urgency to meet the needs of the truly voiceless.

Belfast Telegraph

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