Interim Advocate for victims and survivors takes up post

Brendan McAllister was appointed Interim Advocate by David Sterling last month and has now taken up his post.

Mr McAllister will retain this post until a Statutory Commissioner has been appointed as directed under the HIAI report.  Mr McAllister said “I am honoured and humbled to have been appointed to this important role as a representative voice for victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse…There is much work to be done and I don’t underestimate the challenges that lie ahead but I am absolutely committed to being a strong, dedicated and supportive voice”.

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NI HIAI legislation now in complete form

The HIAI made recommendations in their final report presented to the NI Executive in January 2017.  Shortly after the Executive collapsed over a renewable heat scheme and has not returned.  Divisions between the main parties seem as wide now as they were then and there is little prospect of an imminent return.

A proposed draft of the necessary legislation to implement the HIAI recommendations was completed towards the end of 2018 and a consultation process completed this year.  There were a number of core issues addressed by the former residents both individually and through their support groups with the main contention being an increase in the basic award or “common experience” payment levels.

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Historical abuse developments in Northern Ireland

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.

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Developments in the political arena in Northern Ireland and implications for Redress and the HIAI recommendations

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

HIAI update from Northern Ireland

Sir Anthony Hart, Chairman of the Historic Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI), took the unusual step of releasing a statement last week.

The Terms of Reference for the HIAI were announced by the First and Deputy First Ministers on the 31 May 2012, when they also announced the identity of the Chair and detail about the Acknowledgement Forum.

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Can a cost be put on redress?

The task of trying to put a value on a potential redress scheme is daunting, but is one which is being tackled in Northern Ireland and is likely to be considered in Scotland and England and Wales.

On Monday 17 October representatives of victims and survivors groups in Northern Ireland presented a paper entitled “A Cost Analysis of A Proposed Redress Scheme for Historical Institutional Abuse” in the Long Gallery at Stormont. In the room were survivors and victims, MLAs and members of the media.

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