Leading article

There must be no further delay in delivering abuse compensation

In all the discussions about historical institutional abuse, what has been particularly striking is the united front presented by the main political parties on redress for victims and survivors.

Differences on a range of policy issues have been put to one side as party leaders have decided to speak with one voice on the need for those who suffered appalling treatment as children to be compensated, as recommended by Sir Anthony Hart, who chaired the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry.

Knowing that there is all-party support for the report's recommendations and agreement that this matter should be expedited, it is disgraceful that secretary of state Karen Bradley has compounded the suffering of victims by putting barriers in the way of progress.

We can be sure that if she had decided that this was an issue that needed to be pushed through parliament then it would have happened by now.

In the latest stage of what has been a tortuous process, the leaders of Sinn Féin, the SDLP, DUP, Ulster Unionists, Alliance and Greens, have signed a joint letter giving their responses to questions about the proposed redress scheme.

The parties want all abuse survivors to be given a basic compensation award of £10,000 rather than the £7,500 recommended by the HIA inquiry while a victim's spouse or child should receive 100 per cent of their planned compensation rather than 75 per cent.

In the letter, the leaders call for the redress scheme to be 'taken through Westminster at the earliest opportunity.'

The questions Mrs Bradley set out have been satisfied and it is abundantly clear that on the issue of redress, the parties are as one.

The secretary of state must fully acknowledge the rare political consensus that exists on this issue and act with a sense of urgency, pushing through legislation before the summer recess.

It is more than two years since the HIA inquiry reported and many victims have died in the interim.

Karen Bradley must do what is right for survivors of abuse.

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