Northern Ireland news

Movement on historical abuse payments expected as parties and civil servants agree legislation changes

Sir Anthony Hart recommended tax-free lump sum payments for all survivors of historical abuse. Picture by Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

STORMONT'S parties and civil servants have agreed changes to draft legislation relating to compensation for victims and survivors of institutional abuse.

A letter signed by party leaders will now be sent to Secretary of State Karen Bradley, confirming backing for the matter to be dealt with at Westminster.

The development is expected to speed up the long-awaited compensation payments to the victims of historical institutional abuse.

In 2017 Sir Anthony Hart, the chairman of an inquiry into abuse at homes and residential institutions across the north, recommended tax-free lump sum payments ranging from £7,500 to £100,000 for all survivors.

Mrs Bradley faced criticism last month after she said would not bring forward the necessary legislation in the absence of a devolved assembly.

Stormont's Executive Office will appoint a so-called interim advocate for victims of historical abuse in the coming weeks, according to the BBC.

It is hoped the advocate will provide a voice for the victims still waiting for compensation and the implementation of Sir Anthony recommendations.

Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw welcomed the development.

"The most important thing in this entire issue is the victims and survivors – they are literally running out of time to have their suffering ended, dignity restored and the compensation which they deserve given to them," she said.

"For our part, we will continue putting pressure on to ensure the legislation goes through Westminster."

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