Northern Ireland news

Secretary of State to meet historical abuse victims left in compensation limbo

Margaret McGuckin of pressure group Savia is to meet with Secretary of State James Brokenshire. Picture by Hugh Russell

SECRETARY of State James Brokenshire has agreed to meet representatives of victims of historical abuse, who have been left in limbo since the collapse of the Stormont power-sharing government.

Earlier this week Margaret McGuckin of campaign group Savia called on Mr Brokenshire to implement recommendations published by Sir Anthony Hart.

Sir Anthony, who chaired the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry, called for an apology and compensation of up to £100,000 for victims of state and Church abuse.

His report found that abuse of children had been systemic in some care homes.

However, the collapse of devolution in January has left survivors still waiting for the recommendations to be implemented.

Billy McConville, a son of murdered widow Jean McConville, was among those who gave evidence to the inquiry and the 50-year-old - who is suffering from terminal cancer - has called for urgent action before it is too late.

"The politicians have all the time in the world, their wages are still being paid, but my time and other victims' time is running out,", he said.

A spokesman for the Secretary of State said yesterday that while the redress scheme "remains a devolved issue, we're keen to meet Margaret soon".

Ms McGuckin said she will be asking Mr Brokenshire "to acquire monies from the Treasury to set up an immediate fast track payment fund, whilst awaiting the full legislation for a HIA commissioner.

"Too many are dead and gone, with too many on their death beds now. The least that can be done immediately is an interim payment to tide survivors over, to make life a little more comfortable for them," she said.

Billy McConville (50) has called for help for victims before it's too late. Picture by Hugh Russell

Sinn Féin northern leader Michelle O'Neill said yesterday that "given the ongoing political uncertainty" she had made a formal proposal to the leaders of the main parties to secure funds.

"The proposal would see immediate steps to ring-fence funds for a compensation fund and to seek contributions from the British government and the religious orders responsible for running institutions where abuse took place," she said.

"It would also see work beginning immediately to provide the legal and legislative framework to enable the redress panel and commissioner's office to be established in statute.

 

"I believe this is the best way to give clarity to victims and to begin taking tangible measures aimed at addressing their concerns so I am looking forward to working with the other party leaders without delay".

 

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