Leading article

Abuse victims deserve fair level of compensation

Just days before the collapse of the Stormont executive in January 2017, the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry published a harrowing report detailing the appalling treatment of children in our care system over many years.

These vulnerable and defenceless youngsters, who should have been protected by those in authority, were instead subjected to dreadful abuse by those entrusted with their safety and wellbeing.

It was an unacceptable failure on the part of the state and those Church and charitable organisations into whose care these children were placed.

Sir Anthony Hart's report made a number of important recommendations, including an apology and access to mental health support.

He also recommended compensation, however, any hope that victims would see a swift response from government foundered with the suspension of the Stormont structures and the departure of ministers who could take decisions.

While campaigners have been urging action, a number of victims have sadly passed away and others are in poor health.

To say that survivors are overdue redress from the state is a gross understatement.

Almost two years on from the political impasse and Stormont officials have now drawn up draft legislation for a compensation scheme.

The proposals have already met with dismay from some victims who believe the £7,500 starting point is too low and believe the figure should be a minimum of £10,000.

It is essential that those who endured terrible abuse and whose lives have been blighted as a result, should receive a fair level of recompense.

Victims should be encouraged to engage with the consultation process to ensure their views are being heard.

But the reality is it could be some time before any proposals become law and the ongoing political stalemate is likely to prolong that wait.

The painfully show progress on this crucial issue represent a further indictment on a state which has comprehensively let down victims and survivors of abuse.

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