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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hot on the heels of our recent update there have been further developments in the campaign to push for implementation of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI) recommendations.
We have recently reported on the consultation process and the announcement by the Northern Ireland Civil Service that the results of the process had been passed to Secretary of State Karen Brady. More recently various representatives of the former residents of institutions have met with the Secretary of State to press for progress in the absence of the Executive. They were very angry at what they saw as further delay on the part of the Secretary of State. On her part the Secretary of State has confirmed that she sees the urgent need for implementation but she has asked the various political parties for comments on 15 questions around the implementation and recommendations. She also sees the need for the NI politicians to take ownership of the issue and wants it to be part of the discussions to reinstate the Executive.
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.
The first report published by IICSA in March 2018 related to child migration and it included a recommendation that HM Government establish a redress scheme for surviving former child migrants providing an equal award to every applicant on the basis they were all exposed to the risk of sexual abuse. This concept of being at risk of abuse even if abuse did not occur echoes the harm’s way payments included in the Lambeth Council Scheme and proposed in the Northern Ireland Redress Scheme.
The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Karen Bradley, made a number of announcements on the 6 September 2018 concerning the political impasse in Northern Ireland. While the cut to the pay of the MLAs made the headlines it was the discussion about the role of the Civil Service and decision making powers that may be of significantly greater relevance. Continue reading
It is not immediately apparent how a judgement in a judicial review over a planning consent could have any impact on the Redress preparations being made in Stormont following the recommendations of Sir Anthony Hart in the Historic Institutional Abuse Inquiry. However there could be significant consequences creating even greater confusion in the situation as it stands.