The issue of delay in the implementation of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI) recommendations has continued to make the headlines in the last couple of weeks.
David Sterling, the Head of the Civil Service in Northern Ireland, confirmed he had passed to the Secretary of State the results of the consultation process following publication of the draft legislation. This process highlighted some differences in opinion as to the levels of compensation to be awarded, the make-up of the Redress panels and the need for urgent implementation. This process follows the recent JR80 Judicial Review when the court denied the applicant a direct order compelling action. The court did however hint that the matter was not closed and that the review could be returned if there was unreasonable delay in implementation of the process.
Karen Bradley, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, has caused great unrest among former residents by seemingly dragging her feet on the implementation process. She has included this issue in the various strands of discussions set up to try to reactivate the NI Assembly and then, more recently, has indicated that the Political Parties need to answer some questions about the issues. Initially there were four questions which has now apparently become 11 questions.
Karen Bradley has suggested there could be up to a two year wait for legislation to be passed to deal with the issues.
Victims and survivors groups met with Karen Bradley and in one voice expressed dismay and unhappiness at the response they received. It is their view that the emotive issue of provision of care and redress for former residents of institutions is being used as a stick to beat the parties into line and that their needs are being overlooked.
The unhappiness of the victims and survivors was demonstrated by protests outside the Secretary of State’s garden party on 21 May attended by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall.
The issues created by the continued absence of an Assembly are now being felt across the Province and the high profile concerns such as the HIAI recommendations highlight the difficulties faced in Northern Ireland.
Ciara McReynolds, Solicitor, BLM