Northern Ireland news

Institutional abuse victims feel 'let down' over further delay to compensation legislation

Margaret McGuckin of Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse. File picture by Alan Lewis, Photopress

INSTITUTIONAL abuse victims have said they feel "let down" after being told it is unlikely that legislation to release long-delayed compensation will go before Westminster before the summer recess.

The chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, Conservative MP Simon Hoare, met representatives from Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse (Savia) in Belfast yesterday.

Margaret McGuckin from Savia said Mr Hoare told them that redress legislation, the final draft of which is being sent to Secretary of State Karen Bradley next week, is not expected to go before Parliament before it rises for the summer on July 25.

MPs will not return from their break until September 3.

Ms McGuckin said she was hurt and disappointed by the news.

"He said there was a window in the first two weeks of September," she said.

"Does he not know that a day for us is like a year?

"We had impressed upon him that this is a matter of urgency."

Ms McGuckin said the group had hoped that MPs would want to act quickly following the sudden death of the chair of the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry, Sir Anthony Hart, earlier this week.

"We thought in light of Sir Anthony's passing that something would be done quickly," she said.

"Come September what will happen then? Will there be more stalling over more holidays?

"It's never-ending. We need a plan B."

It is more than two years since the HIA 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 legislation is now due to be passed through Westminster.

Earlier this week, the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee heard that survivors believe the legislation should be introduced before MPs rise for the summer.

Patricia Lundy, professor of sociology at Ulster University, told the committee: "There's no reason why that cannot happen. If it cannot happen, I think it would be important it is explained to survivors why that cannot happen, I think it is absolutely crucial that it is."

A victims' advocate was appointed earlier this month.

Brendan McAllister was appointed in an interim role but is not due to officially take up his post until August 12.

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