The Northern Ireland Executive established the Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse, which investigated abuse of children under 18 who were living in an institution in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995.

Historical Institutional Abuse: Public apology

The Northern Ireland Executive established an Inquiry into abuse in residential homes, known as the Historical institutional Abuse Inquiry. The report and findings was published on 20 January 2017: the Hart Report.

The recommendations from the Inquiry included:

  • Establishment of a Redress Board and financial  compensation scheme;
  • Appointing a Commissioner – The Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse;
  • Establishment of support services;
  • A public apology;
  • A memorial.

You can read the Hart report via the following link: Hart Report

In 2019, priority was given to establishing in legislation the Historical Institutional Abuse Redress Board and the appointment of a Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse. In 2020 the Victims and Survivors Service began providing the health and wellbeing support services. 

A Public Apology

On Friday 11 March 2022 Ministers Michelle McIlveen, Conor Murphy, Nichola Mallon, Robin Swann and Naomi Long offered a public apology to victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse in the Assembly Chamber at Parliament Buildings.

The apology was followed by statements from each of the institutions where systemic failings were found in the Hart Report: De La Salle Order, Sisters of Nazareth, Good Shepherd Sisters, Sisters of St. Louis, Barnardo’s and Irish Church Missions.

The Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse, Fiona Ryan, also delivered a statement and called for a minutes silence for those victims and survivors who have passed away.

The state apology was co-developed with victims and survivors and in line with the Hart report, which recommended that it should be a wholehearted and unconditional recognition of the failure to protect children from abuse that could and should have been prevented or detected.

The full event can be viewed via the video below:

You can read the state apology using the link below:

Supports and services

The Victims and Survivors Service (VSS); and two community partners, WAVE Trauma Centre and Advice NI will ensure that services and support are available for victims and survivors. This includes psychological therapies, personal and professional development, complementary therapies, health and wellbeing caseworker support, welfare support, outreach and befriending, disability aids, information retrieval and management of persistent pain.

You can contact VSS via details below:

Email: hiaenquiries@vssni.org
Telephone: 028 9031 1678

Further information

Any victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse who would like more information on the apology can contact the HIA Implementation Branch in The Executive Office on:

Email: HIAImplementationBranch@executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk

Appointment of the Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse (COSICA)

Fiona Ryan was appointed Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse (COSICA) by the First Minister Arlene Foster and deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and took up post on 14 December 2020 for a 5 year term.

You can read The Executive Office press release about the appointment via the link below:

You can contact COSICA by post, email or telephone.

Postal address:        

5th Floor South
Queens Court
56-66 Queens Street
Belfast
BT1 6FD

Email address: Info@cosica-ni.org
Telephone: 028 9054 4985    
Website: www.cosica-ni.org/

Support Measures For Survivors Of Historical Institutional Abuse

On 1 December 2020, the Executive Office launched a dedicated support service for survivors of Historical Institutional Abuse, delivered by the Victims and Survivors Service (VSS).

VSS are working in partnership with the WAVE Trauma Centre and Advice NI to deliver a range of support and services regionally. They will also ensure that survivors who are now living elsewhere have access to the support and services that they need.

This will include dedicated health and wellbeing caseworker support, counselling, complementary therapies, disability aids, persistent pain and a range of other social and welfare support.

This service can be accessed from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, by phoning 028 9031 1678 or email: hiaenquiries@vssni.org.  Further information can be found at: www.victimsservice.org/historical-institutional-abuse-hia

Data Breach Investigation - Office of the HIA Interim Advocate

Access the NICS Group Internal Audit and Fraud Investigation Service Report into the data breach at the Historical Institutional Abuse Interim Advocate's Office via the link below:

Small Grant Scheme for Social Support

In 2014 a small grant scheme was established by The Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) to fund additional support service projects to victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse. Authority to extend the scheme for a further year until March 2022 has been approved by Ministers.

The aim of the scheme is to help improve the lives of victims and survivors through the provision of funding for social support activity, enabling them to maintain engagement with the Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse and The Executive Office and to support each other throughout the process.

In May 2021 applications were sought from groups and organisations in Northern Ireland that exclusively support victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse.

Additional funding has now become available and a further call for applications is being sought.

Funding

The Executive Office is inviting applications for the period April 2021 – March 2022 from organisations exclusively supporting victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse. Application links are attached, see paragraph 8 below.

The deadline for receipt of applications is 5pm on Friday 12 November 2021.

An electronic copy of the application including the signed declaration must be received by TEO no later than 5pm on Friday 12 November 2021.

No late applications will be accepted.

All projects must be completed by 31 March 2022

Eligibility Criteria

In order to be eligible for grant funding, your organisation must:

  • be legally able to operate in Northern Ireland;
  • be independent and have a constitution or set of rules defining their aims, objectives and operational procedures;
  • established for charitable purposes (be registered with the Charities Commission for Northern Ireland and have a registered charity number, or be in the process of registering);
  • have a suitable management structure and appropriate financial controls;
  • have principles of operation which accord with legislation on employment, health and safety, racial, religious, age, political, sexual and disability discrimination for employees and volunteers; and
  • demonstrate an understanding of and commitment to equal opportunities.
  • demonstrate an understanding of and adherence to the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation, which came into force on 25 May 2018.

How to apply

You can download the guidance notes and application form at the link below.

Application forms, along with supporting documentation, should be submitted by email 5pm Friday 12 November 2022.

Late signed declarations will not be accepted.

Contact details:

HIA Implementation Branch
Strategic Policy, Equality and Good Relations Directorate
The Executive Office
Block 2, Knockview Buildings
Stormont Estate
Belfast BT4 3SJ
Email: hiaimplementationbranch@executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk
Telephone: 028 9076 5703

If you have any queries you can contact the HIA Implementation Branch using the contact details above.

Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Act 2019

The Historical Institutional Abuse (NI) Act 2019 became an Act of Parliament on 5 November 2019.

The Bill was welcomed by the Head of the NI Civil Service in a statement.

Redress Board and compensation scheme

The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Redress Board has been set up to receive and make determinations of awards of compensation to victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse falling within the HIA Inquiry Terms of Reference.  The President of the Historical Institutional Abuse Redress Board is Mr Justice Ian Huddleston The compensation scheme run by HIA Redress Board is open.  

You may be eligible to apply for compensation if you:

  • were resident in an ‘institution’ (eg children’s home, borstal or training school) here between 1922 and 1995 (both dates inclusive); and
  • suffered or witnessed sexual, physical, emotional abuse or neglect or maltreatment, or were subject to a harsh environment.

‘Institution’ as defined by the legislation means an institution in Northern Ireland in which a body, society, or organisation with responsibility for the care, health and welfare of children provided residential accommodation for children, took decisions about them and made provision for their day-to-day care.

You may also be eligible to apply if you were sent to Australia under the Child Migrants Programme.

You can also apply on behalf of someone who died on or after 28 April 1953 if you are the deceased person’s surviving:

  • spouse
  • civil partner
  • cohabiting partner
  • child

For further information and to make an application, contact a solicitor. They will provide independent advice with regard to your eligibility and assist you to make an application. Free legal advice is available to all applicants to the HIA Redress Board.

If you do not have a solicitor, help is available from the Law Society website.

In light of the ongoing Covid 19 outbreak, please do not visit a solicitor’s office.  Follow current health advice to stay at home and make contact by telephone or email.

If you wish to apply without engaging the services of a solicitor, an application form can be downloaded from the Redress Board website or a hard copy can be requested by emailing: admin@hiaredressni.uk

Given the current restrictions due to the Covid 19 outbreak and staff working digitally from home, there could be delays in sending out and in processing paper applications.

The application process will be open for a period of five years from 3 April 2020.

If you are unsure how to apply, call the office of the Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse on 028 9089 3977.

If you are a solicitor, information on how to process applications for clients can be found Redress Board website.

Privacy Notice

The link below outlines how the HIA Branch handles personal information:

Contact us

If you have any queries you can contact the HIA Implementation Branch via the following link: HIA Implementation Branch

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