15 Aug 2022

Abuse survivors respond emphatically to Secretary of State's questions

Jon McCourt
Historical institutional abuse victims have responded emphatically to a series of questions posed by Secretary of State Karen Bradley. Jon McCourt, Chairman of Survivors (North West), who suffered abuse at St Joseph’s Children’s Home in Derry where he lived for ten years has shared with the Derry News agreed responses from victims to the eleven questions tabled by Mrs Bradley. He said survivors concurred with answers provided by the main six political parties in NI to four initial questions proffered by Mrs Bradley. Political representatives advocated for a minimum redress payment of £10,000 and supported families of deceased claimants receiving 100% of the award. They also said a Redress Board Panel should have multi-disciplinary expertise from counsellors and social workers, not solely judicial experience. And accept that it should be open to everyone who spent time in the qualifying institutions to make an application to the Redress Board Panel, including the potential for those who have previously received compensation to have that increased if deemed appropriate by the Panel. At a meeting in May, Survivors told the Secretary of State that they were aware she had been furnished with the responses and hoped to hear from her that implementation via legislation at Westminster could now move forward. Instead, they were informed that another eleven questions had since been presented to the political parties for further clarity and response. However, three of the eleven had already been answered by the political parties, Mr McCourt said. The political parties are now tasked with answering the outstanding questions. Survivors (North West) and Rosetta Trust have agreed responses to the eleven questions which are drawn from the submissions and responses to the HIA Inquiry Redress Consultation which closed in April 2019. An overwhelming number of responses received in that public consultation mirror the responses recommended. Victims thought it only fair that the public have sight of the issues to judge for themselves. Amongst these replies, duties and powers of the commissioner are addressed with the belief that once appointed a commissioner should assist with housing, benefits and medical issues, over and above that which is already in place. A commissioner, they say, should also have the ability to request and obtain information and services relevant to victims and survivors needs. An enhanced payment of £3,000 should be provided for each year a claimant spent at an institution. Survivors contend that all child migrants covered under the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) Scheme in the UK are entitled to the payment of £20,000, the amount also recommended in the HIA Inquiry Report. One of the biggest concerns raised by victims is compensation for loss of opportunity and earnings, which they believe should be included as with judgements in criminal injuries and civil litigation cases. It is their view that technical amendments must also be added to legislation before it is finalised.

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