The Head of the Civil Service David Sterling has set out the timetable for the compensation of victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse.
Following meetings with victims and survivors today, David Sterling said: “I gave a commitment to victims and survivors that I would keep them updated on ongoing developments to implement the HIA legislation.
“We have made significant progress over the last month in developing arrangements for redress payments and are now ready to engage with victims and survivors on the design of an application form that meets the needs of applicants and provides the information required for the Redress Board to carry out its role effectively.
“We will also be working with victims and survivors to inform what support they may need to help them through the application process.
“This work will begin after Christmas with a view to opening the application process at the end of March 2020.
“The Redress Board panels will be available to sit from the end of April, with the first approved payments to follow shortly thereafter.”
Outlining other significant developments to expedite the redress process, Mr Sterling said: “The necessary preparatory work to appoint a Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse (COSICA) has been undertaken and a competition for this position will be launched in January. This is an important milestone, as the Commissioner’s Office will have a key role in supporting those wishing to apply for compensation.
“January will also see the announcement of the first multi-disciplinary members of the Redress Board and the launch of a competition to recruit for additional panels."
Mr Sterling concluded: “This is a complex process and getting to this point is the result of a huge effort on the part of many parties, who are all committed to ensuring victims and survivors get the redress they deserve. We will continue to do everything possible to support the Redress Board in this regard.”
Notes to editors:
- Since the passage of the Historical Institutional Abuse (NI) Bill in November, The Executive Office (TEO) has brought in additional resources to support the redress process. The Head of the Civil Service wrote to the institutions updating them on developments and reminding them of their responsibilities with regard to redress for victims and survivors. TEO has also commissioned an online application system for the Redress Board and is liaising with institutions and PRONI around availability of records to verify claims.
- The HIA (NI) Act provides the legal framework for establishing a Redress Board and a statutory Commissioner. The role of the Commissioner is to act as an advocate for those who were subject to abuse by ensuring the co-ordination and availability of services and identifying suitable means whereby such services can be made available to those who need them. The Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse (COSICA) will be allocated a separate budget and will be required to report once a year to the NI Assembly thus ensuring the office is independent and adequately resourced. The Commissioner has a duty to appoint an advisory panel comprising only victims and survivors of abuse. In the period prior to the appointment of COSICA the Interim Advocate, Brendan McAllister, will continue to provide support to victims.
- The Redress Board will be responsible for receiving, processing applications for and making awards of compensation to those who had been abused in residential children’s homes within the HIA Inquiry Terms of Reference. Mr Justice Colton was appointed as President of the Redress Board on 15 November 2019 and provisions have been made for the appointment of other judicial members and non-judicial members. The Board will have powers to compel evidence, documentation and the giving of evidence where it is considered necessary in the interests of justice to do so.
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