Northern Ireland HIA Redress Scheme review formally commenced

In our blog of 13 July, 2021 we reported that the then 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.

On 15 December, 2021 the then Northern Ireland First Minister Paul Givan and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill announced that this review had commenced.

The Review is being undertaken with a view to putting the needs of victims and survivors of abuse at the centre of the redress process.

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Collapse of Northern Ireland Executive impacts apology to victims of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland

Readers of this blog will be aware that last month we commented on Northern Ireland announcing its intention to make a public apology over historical institutional abuse on 11 March, 2022.

On 3 February the Northern Ireland First Minister Paul Givan of the DUP announced his resignation and this meant that the deputy first minister, Michelle O’Neill of Sinn Féin, lost her post too.

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Update on the Northern Ireland Redress Scheme

The HIA Redress Board in Northern Ireland published its key Business Performance Summary as of the 31 December 2021, in early January 2022. As of 31 December 2021, the HIA Redress Board received 2,267 applications, 186 of those applications have not been processed to date, as they remain incomplete.

Of the 2081 complete applications received the current status of the same are as follows:

  • Waiting for further information                                                               108
  • Outstanding queries relating to statutory information requirements    111
  • Validated to be allocated for listing review                                              58
  • Validated scheduled to be listing in January, 2022                                   95
  • Initial Payment Order made and still in place                                           25
  • Adjourned by panel for further consideration                                          72
  • Finally determined                                                                                  1,474
  • Final Determination – Appeal Outstanding                                              61
  • Withdrawn before a panel                                                                       77

As at 31 December ’21 the HIA Redress Board has paid out £34,006,500, following section 13 actuarial adjustments £33,122,876 was payable to applicants (Section 13 allow certain actuarial adjustments to be made to an award of redress where the applicant for redress has previously been paid compensation for having suffered the abuse the subject of the redress application).

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Stormont Executive announces inquiry into mother and baby homes in Northern Ireland

November has been a busy time for Governments North and South of the Irish Border.

Details of the proposed redress scheme for Mother and Baby Homes in the Republic of Ireland were announced on 16 November and on the previous day the 15 November, the Stormont Executive announced that a STATUTORY public inquiry will be held in Northern Ireland to investigate mother and baby homes, Magdalene laundries and workhouses there.

All of the recommendations made by the expert panel which we discussed in our blog have been accepted by the Stormont Executive.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said “The publication of the report [last month] represents a major step forward for victims and survivors. I’m therefore pleased to inform members that the Executive accepts all of the recommendations in the panel’s report.”

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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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Independent Inquiry to examine Mother and Baby homes in Northern Ireland

The Northern Ireland Executive announced yesterday that an independent investigation into mother and baby homes will be carried out.

The announcement has been made following yesterday’s publication of the research report on historical Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries between 1922 and 1990.

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Interdepartmental working group chair appointment

The Department of Health and The Executive Office set up an interdepartmental Working group to “take forward work on historic Mother and Baby Home/Magdalen Laundries and historical clerical child abuse” in June 2019.  At that time they appointed Mr Peter McBride to the position as independent Chair of the group.  His role was to initially run for a period of one year.

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Data breach at NI Commissioner for victims confirmed as “procedural error”

A data breach occurred when a newsletter was sent to a number of people in a circulation list held by the Commissioner’s Office. The names included around 250 people who were victims or survivors of historic abuse.

Following disclosure of the breach an investigation was started to identify the cause.  The Executive Office accepted that the incident had created problems for many victims and an inquiry has confirmed that the cause of the breach was a “procedural error.”

Mr McAllister had indicated he would await the outcome of any investigation and reflect on calls for him to resign in light of those investigations.

It is likely that this situation will ease pressure on him to resign and while some still feel he should leave many other victims and survivors continue to appreciate his work and support.

Written by Fintan Canavan, Partner at BLM





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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Around 60 children were subjected to footage of child sex abuse, while they were taking part in a fitness class on Zoom, on Tuesday 5 May. The Zoom call had been hacked by someone who streamed the video of the abuse into the session, in a practice known as ‘Zoombombing’. The class had been organised by a sports club in Plymouth and it is believe the hacker gained access as a result of the group’s login details having been published on public internet forums.

Devon and Cornwall police officers are working with Plymouth City Council’s social care team to identify all those who saw the footage, and may have been affected by seeing the images, so as to provide them with any advice or support, as required.

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