Northern Ireland: ‘Ministers have let us down’ – child abuse victims tell Assembly

Amnesty International

Victims of child abuse have told a Northern Ireland Assembly committee today that The Executive Office has failed to prepare for the establishment of a compensation scheme following the conclusion of the Historic Institutional Abuse Inquiry.

The representatives of a range of child abuse survivor groups told the Committee for The Executive Office that despite a November 2015 announcement by Sir Anthony Hart, chair of the Historic Institutional Abuse Inquiry, that he will recommend a financial compensation scheme for victims when he reports in January 2017, Ministers have made no preparations to set up such a scheme and some have repeatedly refused to meet with victims.

Victims from four different survivor groups have come together with experts from Amnesty International, Ulster University and other organisations to establish a Panel of Experts on Redress which has now produced two reports setting out proposals for a compensation scheme. But despite repeated requests over a period of nine months, the groups say that neither the First Minister nor successive DUP Junior Ministers have agreed to meet with victims to discuss the way ahead. Victims say that Sinn Féin Junior Ministers have met the group in their capacity as MLAs on several occasions and that the deputy First Minister has agreed to meet them in the near future.

Victims’ campaigners want The Executive Office to consult with abuse survivors about the establishment of a compensation scheme. They want Ministers to set up a negotiation process to agree the details of the scheme and the financial contribution to be made by religious orders and other organisations which ran many of the children’s homes where abuse took place.

Margaret McGuckin of Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse (SAVIA) said:

“It is the responsibility of The Executive Office to set up a redress scheme for victims of institutional abuse. But as far as we can tell, they have done next to nothing to prepare for the establishment of such a fund despite the end of the public inquiry and the imminent delivery of Sir Anthony Hart’s report.

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