Head of the Civil Service, David Sterling, has described the passage of the HIA legislation as a major milestone in the long journey for justice for victims and survivors.
He plans to meet them shortly to set out next steps for the establishment of the Redress Board which will be responsible for making redress payments.
He has today written to the Lord Chief Justice, Sir Declan Morgan, asking for his continuing support in securing the appointment of the President of the Board and judicial panel members.
David Sterling said: “After so much uncertainty for all the HIA victims and survivors, this is a welcome and significant day as it paves the way for implementation of the recommendations made in Sir Anthony Hart’s report.”
The legislation was expected to take between nine to 12 months to complete its passage through Westminster and following Royal Assent, TEO officials are now accelerating their implementation plans.
David Sterling said: “Responsibility for delivering against that legislation returns to The Executive Office and the wider Civil Service and I am determined we will do everything possible to bring closure to HIA victims and survivors as quickly as possible.
“We had already started to intensify our preparations and that work is being stepped up. We will be working closely with the HIA Interim Advocate, Brendan McAllister, and other NICS Departments. I have written to the Department of Health to identify non-judicial panel members for the Redress Board and to the Department of Justice on the administration of the compensation scheme.
“We are also bringing additional resources into The Executive Office so that we can quickly provide redress to the HIA victims and survivors who have already waited too long for justice.”
The Executive Office will also provide updates to the political parties.
Notes to editors:
- 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.
- The Redress Board will be responsible for receiving, processing applications for and making payments of compensation to those who had been abused in residential children’s homes within the HIA Inquiry Terms of Reference. Provisions have been made for the appointment the President of the Board, 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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