NI Redress Scheme progress accelerating

Following the passing of the Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Bill in the last hours of the parliament before the recess for the December election there has been a rapid progression in the matter.

The recommendations were made in 2017 but since then, the collapse of the NI Executive and the disruption caused by Brexit and debates about who could or could not make laws for NI, little had progressed.

Victims met with the Head of the Civil Service on Monday 11 November and while he was positive about the direction of the steps to be taken Mr Sterling was more reticent about a timetable as many steps need to be taken before the Redress scheme can be implemented.  He did indicate that steps would be taken to prioritise the applications for the most elderly and those with serious illness through the process.

It was reported that contact had been made with the Lord Chief Justice, Declan Morgan, asking for assistance in appointing a President to the Scheme and it seems that this has been granted.  Reports suggest that a judge will be appointed this week to assist in the setting up of the scheme.  This has been welcomed by campaigners.

Issues which will still need to be overcome include, from where the budget will come as NI still has no Executive and how the scheme will be managed between NI and Westminster.

However it seems that after years of campaigning, the scheme may now be achieved in a realistic time frame from now.

Ciara McReynolds, Solicitor, BLM

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