This report starts first with a comment on the sad death of Sir Anthony Hart, the Chairman of the Historic Institutional Abuse Inquiry. He died suddenly on Tuesday. Sir Anthony was a well respected member of the Bar and retained that respect as a county court Judge, Recorder of Derry and Belfast and, subsequently, a High Court Judge. Our sympathies go to his wife, family friends and colleagues.
In the same week, the Northern Ireland Select Committee heard evidence from Jon McCourt (Survivors North West), Gerry McCann (Rosetta Trust), Professor Patricia Lundy (Ulster University and Patrick Corrigan (Amnesty). The Committee recommended that the Redress Scheme (recommended by the HIAI) be progressed through Parliament as quickly as possible. This recommendation was originally contained in the recommendations of the HIAI, lead by Sir Anthony, published in January 2017. The collapse of the NI Assembly shortly after that means there has been little or no progress since then.
The calls for developments are likely to increase following the appointment of an interim Advocate for Victims and the decision to amend the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation) Bill to allow for the implementation of same sex marriage and abortion access in Northern Ireland. That recommendation itself has been opposed by the DUP and the House of Lords Select Committee on the Constitution is also concerned at the decision. They feel that legislation can only be introduced in this way in “exceptional and urgent circumstances”.
The difference in approach to the HIAI and the implementation of other legislative changes will certainly increase the calls for implementation of the redress recommendations if not the entirety of the recommendations made by the HIAI.
Written by Ciara McReynolds at BLM