Northern Ireland

Talks continue with institutions over historical abuse redress contributions

Stormont’s Executive Office said Barnardo’s and the Good Shepherd Sisters have indicated their willingness to make an ‘interim contribution’.

Copies of the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry report
Copies of the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry report (Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press/PA)

Talks are continuing with four institutions over contributions to a redress fund for survivors of historical institutional abuse.

Thousands of victims and survivors have already received payouts after a recommendation by the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI).

The inquiry led by Sir Anthony Hart revealed the extent of sexual, physical and emotion abuse at homes run by the state, church and charities from 1922 to 1995.

Since the setting up of the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Redress Board in 2020, a total of 4,333 applications have been received and almost £85 million awarded.

Sir Anthony Hart
Sir Anthony Hart (Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press/PA)

The board will receive applications for redress for another year, to April 2 2025.

The HIAI also recommended that any voluntary institution found by the inquiry to have been guilty of systemic failings should be asked to make an appropriate financial contribution to the overall cost of the redress board and any specialist support services.

There have been negotiations with six institutions for several years over contributions to the redress fund led by independent facilitator Paul Sweeney.

Stormont’s Executive Office said two institutions – Barnardo’s and the Good Shepherd Sisters – have so far indicated their intention to make an interim contribution.

A spokesperson said the Executive Office will continue to engage on a final payment after the closure of the redress board next year.

They added: “Constructive discussions on appropriate contributions from the other four institutions are ongoing.”

Last week Jon McCourt, chairman of Survivors North West, outlined his frustration to the Executive’s scrutiny committee over the length of time it has taken for the institutions to contribute.

“We are now 14 years down the road, 12 years after the historical institutional abuse legislation was passed in the Assembly chamber, 10 years since the inquiry itself opened in Banbridge, seven years since the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry released its report containing its outline key recommendations,” he said.

“Fourteen years after the initial assurance that ‘institutions had been put on notice’ and with 12 months left before the redress board can accept its last application – in line with its five-year remit.

“Since then, not one penny has been forthcoming from any of the institutions that were, in the words of Sir Anthony Hart, found guilty of systemic failings.”