Institutions named in historical abuse report 'must contribute to redress scheme'
AN agreement on compensation payments must be reached with the six institutions identified in the landmark Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) report, the Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse has said.
The Irish News reported on Saturday that none of the religious orders and charities who ran children's homes have paid any money to a redress scheme for victims 18 months after it was established.
The first minister and deputy first minister met representatives of Barnardo's, the De La Salle Order, Sisters of Nazareth, Sisters of St Louis, the Good Shepherd Sisters, and the Irish Church Missions on Thursday.
Paul Sweeney, an ex-permanent secretary of the departments of education and culture, arts and leisure, will now lead discussions over how much the institutions will contribute to the scheme and specialist support services for victims.
Commissioner Fiona Ryan said survivors she had spoken to had "expressed sadness and anger at how long this has taken".
"Almost five years after the Hart Inquiry, many victims and survivors are still seeking closure," she said.
"One survivor told me that ‘it has taken a long time to get back to the start'. Another that this was fundamentally about institutions being held to account for their actions.
"Currently, it is the case that financial redress is available for victims and survivors, however we have yet to see contributions to the scheme from any of the institutions investigated.
"The Hart Inquiry clearly and unambiguously recommended that these institutions should provide a contribution to supplement the redress scheme.
"With these discussions set to continue into the weeks ahead, it is time for an agreement which ensures contributions are made."
Ms Ryan said the institutions must also contribute to support services for victims, as recommended by the HIA Inquiry.
"It is imperative that this is fully considered as part of a victim-centred response," she said.
Following Thursday's meeting, First Minister Paul Givan said he welcomed "the cooperation all parties have demonstrated in... useful and constructive discussions regarding contributions to the financial redress scheme and the delivery of a sincere apology and memorial".
Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill said the institutions' contributions to the redress scheme must be made "as a matter of priority".