Review of HIA redress process under way: Givan and O’Neill

Date published: 15 December 2021

A review of the redress process for victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse has now commenced, the First Minister and deputy First Minister have confirmed.

Paul Givan and Michelle O’Neill said the review will help to ensure the needs of victims and survivors are at the centre of the redress process. 

First Minister Paul Givan said:

“I welcome the commencement of the review of the HIA redress process, which will consider the experiences of victims and survivors and make the improvements needed.

“Victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse have endured dreadful pain throughout their lives. We owe it to them to ensure they not only get the compensation they deserve, but that the process to receive redress is designed and equipped to meet their needs.

“I, along with Junior Minister Middleton and Junior Minister Kearney, met recently with Mr Justice Huddleston, President of the Redress Board and I am encouraged by the improvements that have already been made to address concerns raised by the sector. And I want to let victims know that, working alongside them, we are committed to implementing the further improvements identified by this review.”

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said:

“Victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse continue to live with the unimaginable trauma and suffering inflicted on them. And while no compensation will never make up for how they were so gravely failed, we must do all we can to support them through the redress process.

“Thousands of victims and survivors have made applications for redress and we know there are many more who have yet to come forward. We must listen to, and act on, the voices and experiences of those who have been through the process to ensure it is compassionate and fit for purpose.

“The needs of victims and survivors will be at the heart of this review, and we are determined to make the improvements that are needed.”

As at the end of November 2021: 2,199 applications had been received by the Redress Board; determinations totalling £32.244 million had been made and some £28.846 million paid out in redress.

Notes to editors: 

Review of the HIA Redress Process Terms of Reference

Background (How the Review came to be)

1. The Review stems from the Assembly motion passed on 5 July 2021, as follows:

“That this Assembly recognises the discontent of victims of historical institutional abuse with the redress process; further recognises that the delays, the impersonal nature of the judicial process, the disparity of awards, and re-traumatisation are posing difficulties for the victims of historical institutional abuse; and calls on the First Minister and deputy First Minister to carry out a review of the redress process, which should be undertaken alongside the current process and should not in any way impede the operation of the process while the review is under way.”

Purpose (What we are aiming to do)

2. The purpose of the Review is to examine the operation of the redress process with survivors and other stakeholders in light of experience since its launch in March 2020.

Key outputs include:

  • identify what is working well and areas of good practice;
  • identify what is not working well;
  • identify areas for improvement; and
  • work with all stakeholders in developing an action plan to implement the priority improvements identified.

Governing principles (8 key values)

3. Survivor focused – In light of commitments to victims made by Ministers, the review should take place with full engagement with survivors and HIA survivors’ groups, including on reasons why any eligible survivors have not applied.

4. Collaborative – the Review team will work openly and collaboratively with survivors and other stakeholders in a way which promotes mutual trust, respect and recognition.

5. Managing Expectations – the Review will adopt clear terms of reference, scope and timeframes in terms of what is possible in the short term, what is possible in the longer term and what is not possible.

6. Systemic – the Review should be systemic in nature, looking at the ‘whole system’ and the survivor journey in its entirety.

7. Evidence-based – the Review will use best evidence in reaching decisions.

8. Timebound – in light of points made during the 5 July debate about the need for a short, sharp exercise, the Review shall be completed within 3 months of commencing, following agreement of the terms of reference.

9. Proportionate – in keeping with the Assembly motion, the Review should cause as little disruption as possible to operational work of the agencies involved. Ministers also indicated that they would not want to delay any sensible developments as part of normal business improvement until completion of the Review.

10. Outcomes and Solution Focused – the Review will focus on priority actions that will make the biggest difference. The action plan should be developed in a way which allows immediate action alongside a set of medium and longer term changes required.

Scope of the Review (What the review will look at)

11. The Review will examine the operation of the Redress process with particular regard to the victim journey. This will likely require attention as to the support and services needed at each stage, for example in preparing to make an application for redress, while the application is in progress, and after an application has been concluded.

12. The Review will therefore consider how the Department, the Redress Board, the Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse, solicitors, and the Victims and Survivors Service as service providers, can contribute to a better experience for victims and survivors.

13. The Review’s scope includes relevant legislation: the Historical Institutional Abuse (NI) Act 2019 and the Historical Institutional Abuse Redress Board (Applications and Appeals) Rules (Northern Ireland) 2020. However the Review will take proportionate account of the fact that changes to primary legislation can be lengthy as compared with changes in culture, operations, collaborative working, communications etc.

14. The Review will not be able to examine decisions in individual cases, as these are made on a quasi-judicial basis and are subject to a Restriction Order. However it will take account of general concerns of trends (including disparity of awards) in the application, assessment and decision-making process and how the reasons for these have been communicated.

Methodology (How it will be done)

15. The review will comprise four stages.

(1) Literature review:-

(a) Publicly available information - legislation, TEO Committee, websites, the HIA inquiry, other national and international schemes etc;

(b) Data and information, both quantitative and qualitative, from survivors, TEO, Redress Board, VSS and COSICA.

(2) The reviewer will engage with relevant stakeholders, including victims’ groups, the Child Migrant Trust, the Board, Commissioner, VSS, the Law Society, solicitors, and TEO, to identify the priority issues to be considered.

(3) The reviewer will work with victims’ groups, including the Board, Commissioner, VSS and TEO to identify practicable solutions to address / help address the priority issues raised.

(4) A final report on the Review will be submitted (after fact checking) by the reviewer to the First Minister and deputy First Minister for consideration along with any decisions needed outside normal operational issues.  It is envisaged that the report will be made available to the TEO Assembly Committee and to victims and survivors.

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