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.

* For the purposes of the HIA Inquiry and this Grant Scheme, “institution” means anybody, society or organisation with responsibility for the care, health or welfare of children in Northern Ireland, other than a school (but including a training school or borstal) which, during the relevant period, provided residential accommodation and took decisions about and made provision for the day to day care of children. “Relevant period” means the period between 1922 and 1995 (both years inclusive).

Draft Legislation

In early 2018 and given the ongoing political vacuum and the absence of an NI Executive, the Head of the Civil Service (HOCS) – David Sterling directed the Executive Office (TEO) to develop draft legislation.

This draft legislation was on the basis of the recommendations made in the Hart Report in relation to establishing a:

  • Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse (COSICA);
  • Redress Board, which would receive, process and make payments of financial compensation; and
  • Compensation scheme.


The drafting of the legislation was completed in the autumn of 2018 and on 19 November 2018 this Department (TEO) launched a public consultation to seek the views of victims’ and survivors’ and the wider public on the draft legislative proposals. The consultation ended on 10 March 2019 and 562 formal responses were received.

TEO fully analysed all of the consultation responses received and produced a report that was published on TEO website on 13 May 2019. The report can be viewed by following the below link:

David Sterling wrote to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland (SOSNI) on 2 May 2019 providing her with an analysis of the consultation responses and asked that the legislative proposals around establishing a COSICA and Redress Board be taken through Westminster. The SOSNI then sought the views of the local political parties on those policy issues raised during the consultation, which required ministerial decisions.

The local political parties reached agreement on the issues and wrote to the SOSNI collectively on 11 June 2019 stating their wish that the legislative proposals should be updated accordingly and then progressed through Westminster at the earliest possible opportunity.

Draft Legislation - current position

On 19 July 2019, David Sterling, wrote to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland enclosing the updated legislation asking that the matter be given urgent consideration and taken through Westminster.  Letters providing the latest update, have been sent to the main political parties and victims’ and survivors’ groups.

Interim Advocate

On 2 July 2019, HOCS, appointed an interim advocate for victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse. Brendan McAllister will be in post until the statutory COSICA has been appointed, in line with the recommendation in the Hart Inquiry report.

The interim advocate is independent of government and will act as a voice for victims and survivors, he will:

  • advocate on behalf of victims and survivors during the passage of legislative proposals
  • work with service providers to ensure the needs of victims and survivors are known and emphasised
  • reach out to victims and survivors in other jurisdictions
  • be a channel of communications for the sector.

The interim advocate will officially take up his role on 12 August 2019.

Contact details are available at the following link:

To read more on the Interim Advocate view the following news release: Sterling appoints Interim Advocate for Victims and Survivors of Historical Institutional Abuse

The latest developments regarding Historical Institutional Abuse can be found, via nidirect:

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. The scheme was initially extended by The Executive Office (TEO) for an additional year (until March 2018), however authority to extend the scheme for a further two years has since been approved.

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 Executive Office and to support each other throughout the process.

In June 2019 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.


The Executive Office is inviting applications for the period November 2019 – March 2020 from organisations exclusively supporting victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse. Application links are attached below.

The deadline for receipt of applications is 5.00pm on Wednesday 13 November 2019. A hard copy of the application including the signed declaration must be received by TEO no later than 5.00pm on Wednesday 13 November 2019.

No late applications will be accepted.

All projects must be completed by 31 March 2020

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, can be submitted by post or email. If you are applying by email you must also submit a hard copy of your signed declaration by 5.00pm Wednesday 13 November 2019.

Late signed declarations will not be accepted.

Forms submitted by post must be marked 'HIA Small Grant Scheme for Social Support'.

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 the following link: HIA Implementation Branch

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