The Northern Ireland Executive announce review of HIA redress process

On 5 July, 2021 the Northern Ireland First Minister Paul Givan and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill announced the establishment of a review of the client journey for HIA redress to improve the experiences of victims and survivors.

In announcing the review the First Minister Paul Givan said that although much good work had been done since the redress process commenced over 15 months ago (1,090 applications have been finalised and redress totalling £20 million has been paid out) he said that there is still a clear need to consider what improvements can be made.

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Report on Mother and Baby Homes in Northern Ireland likely to recommend full public inquiry

In February 2016, the then Northern Ireland Executive agreed to establish an inter-departmental working group to take forward work on Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries and Historical Clerical Child Abuse, which fell outside the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry.

The Working Group was tasked with considering the evidence about the operation of Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries and make recommendations to the Northern Ireland Executive on what action to take.

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MOJ offers Medomsley abuse victims compensation

Hundreds of men who say that they were victims of abuse by staff at Medomsley in County Durham have become eligible for compensation after the Government changed the rules in respect of the proposed compensation scheme.

Medomsley was a youth detention centre in Consett, County Durham, which operated from the late 1960s until 1990.

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Northern Ireland Justice Minister to strengthen sexual exploitation of children laws

The Northern Ireland Justice Minister Naomi Long has announced that she intends to strengthen the existing law to provide more comprehensive protection for children from sexual exploitation and to specifically ban the offence of “upskirting”.

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Northern Ireland Executive appoints permanent Commissioner for Victims of Institutional Childhood Abuse

In addition to establishing the HIA Redress Board, the Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Act 2019 (the 2019 Act) also somewhat uniquely provided for the establishment of a permanent Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse.

Section 22 of the 2019 Act states that the principal aim of the Commissioner “…is to promote the interests of any person who suffered abuse while a child and while resident in an institution at some time between 1922 and 1995.”

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Further pressure on NI Interim Commissioner for Victims

Just over a week after the NI Executive opened the process to appoint a full-time commissioner for victims and survivors of institutional abuse the Interim commissioner, Brendan McAllister, has come under further pressure to resign as a result of his role in the Catholic Church.  It was known that he had started the process of becoming a Deacon in the Catholic Church and he recently took part in a service in St Peter’s church in his full clerical garb.

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Sensitive data breach puts pressure on NI Interim Commissioner for Victims

Brendan McAllister, the interim Commissioner for Victims appointed in the wake of the report of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI), has indicated he will not be stepping down after a serious breach in data regulations.  He has issued an apology following the breach involving the identification of 250 survivors of historical abuse.

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HIAI Bill passes through Parliament before election Purdah

The Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Bill passed through the Commons yesterday before Parliament was dissolved in preparation for the December elections.  This paves the way for the creation of a Redress Panel and the appointment of a Commissioner for Victims of residential Institutional abuse as recommended by Sir Anthony Hart in 2017.

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Queen’s speech indicates intention to address HIAI Redress and other recommendations

While the Queen’s speech delivered on Monday 14 October indicated a number of headline grabbing initiatives around the Brexit process and progress, education, security and so on there was a small section of interest to the Victims and Survivors of Institutional abuse.

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NI victims meet with new Secretary of State

Following his appointment to the Northern Ireland Office, Julian Smith has had meetings with different victims campaign groups over the ongoing stalemate in Northern Ireland. These meetings seem to have been more upbeat than previous meetings with his predecessor Karen Bradley and the victims groups have expressed confidence in the new Secretary of State.

Victims and survivors had lost confidence in Ms Bradley and had gone as far as to call for her resignation. They remain unhappy that the recommendations of the Historic Institutional Abuse Inquiry have not progressed into any tangible form over 2 ½ years since they were presented to the Executive.

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