Northern Ireland news

Nigel Dodds accuses Karen Bradley of failing to act over redress payments

(left to right) Kate Walmsley, Ron Graham, and Margaret McGuckin from the Savia lobby group. Picture by Liam McBurney, Press Association

NIGEL Dodds has accused the secretary of state of "refusing to do anything" about redress payments for abuse victims.

During a heated debate in the House of Commons yesterday, the DUP deputy leader claimed Karen Bradley is stalling on the payments.

Mr Dodds, whose party has a £1 billion confidence and supply agreement with the Tories in the Commons, said people "are outraged" that survivors are still waiting for redress more than two years after Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry recommended compensation payments.

"Frankly many people are saying that far too much time has elapsed already, given the fact that the secretary of state does have the ability to make this move faster," he said.

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Abuse victims, the main political parties and David Sterling, head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, have all said that a law to introduce redress payments should be progressed through Westminster.

The parties were in the process of drawing up an agreed submission to the executive office on the redress process.

Secretary of State Karen Bradley has been criticised for her handling of redress payments for victims of institutional abuse. Picture by David Young, Press Association

However, on Monday Mrs Bradley asked the parties to look at 11 further questions around the scheme. She later indicated that it could take a further two years before payments can be processed.

She said yesterday: "I do not shy away from my responsibilities in this matter."

She added: "The two years he’s (Mr Dodds) referred to is an estimate by the Civil Service of Northern Ireland."

"This is not an estimate I have put forward."

Mr Dodds claimed Mrs Bradley was failing to act.

"This is one but probably the most terrible example of a whole series of decisions which have cross-community and cross-party support but which she has refused to do anything about even though this place and her government is responsible for the administration of Northern Ireland," he said.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds has criticised the secretary of state's handling of a redress scheme for victims of institutional abuse. Picture by House of Commons, Press Association

He questioned why she had asked the main Stormont parties to answer further questions about the redress scheme.

She replied: “The head of the civil service and the executive office have put forward 15 questions that need a response."

She also said she was prepared to push forward legislation through Westminster.

“I am prepared to do the legislation wherever it is quickest,” she said.

The main political parties met at Stormont yesterday to discuss their response to the extra questions.

Margaret McGuckin, founding member of the Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse (Savia) support group, said yesterday she was pleased that the DUP had shown their support.

"Everybody sees she's not fit to govern," she said.

"We are still calling for her to resign. She isn't answering questions and keeps passing the buck.

"When Theresa May goes I hope she takes her (Karen Bradley) with her," she added.

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