Child abuse vic­tims urge North’s politicians to re­lease com­pen­sa­tion

The Irish Times - - Home News -

Vic­tims of his­tor­i­cal child abuse have urged North­ern Ire­land’s politicians to re­lease com­pen­sa­tion which has been blocked due to Stor­mont’s col­lapse, as talks aimed at restor­ing pow­er­shar­ing con­tinue.

Savia – Sur­vivors and Vic­tims of In­sti­tu­tional Abuse, which rep­re­sents peo­ple who were abused at in­sti­tu­tions called on North­ern Ire­land sec­re­tary James Bro­ken­shire to make pro­vi­sions for the re­lease of vic­tims’ com­pen­sa­tion if the talks fail and a bud­get is in­tro­duced in West­min­ster.

Fol­low­ing an in­quiry into abuse at chil­dren’s homes in the North, rec­om­men­da­tions were made in Jan­uary to the North­ern Ire­land As­sem­bly to award com­pen­sa­tion to vic­tims and sur­vivors.

Re­lease of funds

How­ever, just days af­ter the in­quiry’s re­port, pow­er­shar­ing col­lapsed at Stor­mont, mean­ing that no gov­ern­ment has been in place to ap­prove the re­lease of funds.

The par­ties have been given a fi­nal dead­line of Mon­day to reach a deal, af­ter which Mr Bro­ken­shire has said he will be forced to leg­is­late for a bud­get via West­min­ster in­stead.

Mar­garet McGuck­ian from Savia said: “It’s an ab­so­lute shame and a dis­grace that peo­ple have been treated like this.

“This gov­ern­ment has said they care about vic­tims of child abuse, but they re­ally don’t.

“What we’re ask­ing is that Mr Bro­ken­shire in­cludes an in­terim pay­ment in the bud­get if he passes one at West­min­ster. It’s the least he can do and we know he can do it.”

Green Party MLA Clare Bai­ley said: “The way peo­ple have been treated is just bru­tal. It’s re­trau­ma­tis­ing, af­ter ev­ery­thing peo­ple have al­ready been through.

“We de­mand that if James Bro­ken­shire puts his bud­get through, they must get the com­pen­sa­tion they de­serve and which they’re due.”

‘‘ The way peo­ple have been treated is just bru­tal. It’s re­trau­ma­tis­ing

In Jan­uary, the re­port by the His­tor­i­cal In­sti­tu­tional Abuse In­quiry, led by An­thony Hart, out­lined a se­ries of rec­om­men­da­tions af­ter sex­ual, phys­i­cal and emo­tional abuse was re­vealed to have taken place at church and state-run in­sti­tu­tions be­tween 1922 and 1995.

Among the rec­om­men­da­tions was a pro­posal that abuse sur­vivors should re­ceive com­pen­sa­tion rang­ing from £7,500 to £100,000 each as part of a com­pen­sa­tion pack­age.

Mr Hart has sug­gested that in­sti­tu­tions re­spon­si­ble for the abuse should make a fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tion to the com­pen­sa­tion fund.

Some abuse sur­vivors have said they have been left feel­ing sui­ci­dal and fac­ing fi­nan­cial ruin due to the im­passe. – PA

PHO­TO­GRAPH: SIOBHAN FEN­TON/PA

Mem­bers of Sur­vivors and Vic­tims of In­sti­tu­tional Abuse (Savia) protest out­side Stor­mont. Rec­om­men­da­tions

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