12/04/2024

Ministers Must Ensure Institutions Contribute To Redress Scheme

The First and deputy First Ministers must urgently intervene to ensure that institutions responsible for historical institutional child abuse contribute to the redress scheme.

Alliance's Paula Bradshaw MLA and Connie Egan MLA, Chair and Deputy Chair of the Executive Office Committee respectively, made the call after receiving presentations from victims' groups at a meeting of the Committee on 10 April, and a response to an Assembly Question from the First and deputy First Minister confirming that there has not been, and will not be, a formal Executive Office response to the recommendations contained in the Hart Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse of Children.

Committee Chair, South Belfast MLA Paula Bradshaw, said: "As we heard in today's presentations to the Committee, this remains a particularly sore point for a lot of victims and survivors, not just in terms of the lack of redress, but also in the lack of genuine acknowledgement of the harm caused.

"It has now been seven years since Sir Anthony Hart reported, but still we have no clarity on exactly when and how the institutions responsible for historical institutional child abuse will contribute to the redress scheme and take other actions to atone properly for the abuse that occurred.
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"The fact is that a framework for ensuring an adequate contribution from the institutions could have been in place even before Sir Anthony Hart published his findings. In February this year, officials stated to the Executive Office Committee that such a framework now exists, two institutions were ready to make payments and two more were close behind. Yet still, we see no contributions forthcoming.

"Victims and survivors do not have months and years to wait. Already in 2021 we had a clear list of institutions making a 'fair and meaningful contribution' to redress in Scotland. If institutions are stalling on making similar contributions in Northern Ireland all these years later, then political intervention is required urgently."

Committee Deputy Chair, North Down MLA Connie Egan, added: "It is a very real concern that we will also see similar delays on redress arising from other scandals, notably the Mother and Baby Homes. My colleagues and I were working hard on this issue prior to restoration and we were told that efforts were hindered by a lack of functioning Executive and Assembly. Yet two months on from restoration, we see no meaningful progress, which means that the First and deputy First Minister must now act.

"The needs and interests of victims and survivors must be an immediate priority. It is time that there was intervention to deliver the redress and recognition rightly sought without further delay.

"My colleagues and I will continue to pursue concrete action on redress and recognition using every avenue available to us in the restored Assembly."


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