Northern Ireland news

Recommended £7,500 compensation for institutional abuse victims 'derisory'

Retired judge Sir Anthony Hart chaired an independent panel that examined historical abuse. Picture by Arthur Allison
Deborah McAleese, Press Association

Victims of institutional child abuse have hit out at a "derisory" recommended compensation payment of £7,500.

The victims, who were abused in children's homes run by some churches, charities and state institutions, said the payment should be higher and should reflect the length of time spent in the institutions.

In January the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI) recommended that victims should receive financial redress. Chairman of the inquiry Sir Anthony Hart said the payments should range from £7,500 to £100,000.

A 30-page response by victims has criticised the level of basic payment recommended.

"The response of survivors to the HIAI recommendation of a flat £7,500 common experience payment to all was that it fell short of expectations or was derisory," the response said.

The document, forwarded by victims to political parties on Monday for consideration, said an appropriate payment should start at £10,000 and be graduated according to the number of years spent in a residential institution.

It added: "This would acknowledge that the longer a child resided away from his or her family in an institution characterised by the HIAI and the courts as 'harsh and brutal', the greater harm the child would have suffered."

A panel of experts on redress, made up of victims, human rights organisations, academics and legal professionals, said the HIAI recommendations for compensation "fall short of survivors' needs".

"If implemented in its current form, the scheme could impede recognition, silence survivors' voices and fall short of fair and just compensation," the panel added.

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

These were facilities 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.

There was also sexual abuse carried out by priests and lay people.

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