Northern Ireland news

Karen Bradley 'cannot stall' over institutional abuse compensation

Abuse victims hold hands at a protest earlier this year against the stalling of redress legislation. Picture by Alan Lewis, Photopress

SECRETARY of State Karen Bradley cannot continue to stall over legislation to compensate victims of institutional abuse, Sinn Féin's deputy leader has said.

The head of the Northern Ireland civil service, David Sterling, confirmed yesterday that Mrs Bradley had been given the final draft of legislation aimed at giving redress to victims.

Mr Sterling said he had written to Mrs Bradley to request that she "now takes the necessary steps to ensure this is enacted through parliament".

Sinn Féin deputy leader Michelle O'Neill said the legislation must be put before parliament as soon as possible.

"The ball is now firmly in Karen Bradley's court. There can be no more stalling," she said.

"The victims and survivors of abuse, while in care, have waited long enough and Karen Bradley should now immediately put in place the required legal and financial framework to assist them."

Groups representing abuse victims and survivors had expressed hope that the legislation could be put before parliament before it breaks for the summer recess on July 25.

However, the chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Conservative MP Simon Hoare, said last week the legislation would not go before the Commons until September.

It is more than two years since the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry exposed serious sexual, physical and emotional abuse over decades at children's homes run by religious orders, charities and the state.

The landmark inquiry, published in January 2017, recommended compensation payments, an apology and care packages for victims.

Progress on legislation to introduce the inquiry's recommendations stalled following the collapse of Stormont.

The inquiry's chairman, Sir Anthony Hart (73), died last week following a heart attack.

He was laid to rest on Wednesday.

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