Abuse survivors in Northern Ireland call for improved compensation

Abuse survivors in Northern Ireland have called for improved compensation and demanded a meeting with the Secretary of State.

Survivors of institutional abuse want to meet Karen Bradley to urge her to introduce legislation at Westminster before the summer to set up the redress scheme.

The scheme has been delayed for more than two years following the collapse of the Northern Ireland Executive in 2017.

The calls follow a 16-week government consultation on draft legislation to establish a compensation scheme for victims.

The survey comes two years after the publication of the report of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI), which found widespread and systemic abuse in children’s homes across Northern Ireland.

In the 562 responses to the abuse law consultation received by the Executive Office, 82% of respondents recommended higher redress payments, 69% of whom think compensation should reflect the number of childhood years spent in abusive institutions.

And 76% of people disagreed with the proposal that only judges could serve on the redress board.

Most responses to the consultation, published on Monday, called for more generous levels of compensation and for payments to reflect the number of years which children spent in institutions where abuse was rife.

The original proposals had recommended a standard payment of just £7,500, irrespective of how long a child had spent in one of the residential institutions where the HIAI had found widespread and systemic abuse.

Survivors say it is up to Karen Bradley to listen to victims and ensure justice, which has been “too long delayed”, is now delivered.

“We are seeking an urgent meeting with the Secretary of State to urge no further delay in bringing forward legislation at Westminster,” said Gerry McCann, survivor and chairman of victims’ group Rosetta Trust.

“Too many survivors have had to wait too long already for this scandal to be brought to an end.

“We want Karen Bradley to introduce legislation at Westminster before the summer to ensure a fair deal for victims who have suffered so much already.”

The HIAI studied allegations of abuse in 22 homes and other residential institutions between 1922 and 1995.

These were run by the state, local authorities, the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland and the children’s charity Barnardo’s.

The largest number of complaints related to four Catholic-run homes.

Almost two years on from the publication of the report of the four-year inquiry, the Government has so far failed to deliver an apology and financial redress.

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland director of Amnesty International, which has supported abuse survivors, said the delay was unacceptable.

“No redress scheme can compensate properly for the suffering which thousands of children experienced in residential homes across Northern Ireland,” he said.

“But compensation is an important component of justice which the Government has an obligation to deliver.

“Survivors have spoken loud and clear through this consultation.

“Given the delays which victims have already been forced to endure, the Secretary of State should move swiftly to bring this cruel saga to a conclusion.”

Hundreds of victims and survivors of institutional child abuse were helped to respond to the consultation by support groups Survivors North West and Rosetta Trust, working alongside Amnesty International and Ulster University.

A similar campaign has been launched in the Republic of Ireland, where victims of abuse at the hands of the state and church have called on the Government to pay for the medical care of survivors.