Northern Ireland: excluded victims and redress must be priorities as Assembly votes to extend abuse inquiry
Amnesty International has welcomed a decision of the Northern Ireland Assembly to extend the life of the Historic Institutional Abuse Inquiry by one year, but called for Ministers to establish a redress scheme and a separate investigation into other abuse allegations.
The Assembly voted this afternoon to extend the duration of the inquiry by a year, at the request of its Chair, Sir Anthony Hart, to enable it to hear from the hundreds of victims who have come forward to give testimony. Sir Anthony is not now expected to publish the report of the inquiry until January 2017.
Speaking at Stormont after the vote, Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International's Northern Ireland Programme Director, welcomed the move but called for the Executive to address the consequences of the extension:
"In the interests of truth and justice, it is essential that the Inquiry has the time needed to investigate all the allegations of abuse and to hear from the huge number of victims who have come forward.
"But one consequence of the extension is that the prospect of redress for victims has now been further postponed. For many victims of advanced age, there is a real possibility that they may never live to see justice or receive any form of compensation.
"Ministers should now move to establish an appropriate redress scheme for victims, without waiting for Sir Anthony to deliver his report in two years' time. In the Republic of Ireland a redress scheme was established in parallel with the inquiry and that is what should now happen for victims in Northern Ireland.
"Ministers should also set up an inquiry for victims who are not covered by the present inquiry, such as those abused in Magdalene Laundries and Mother and Baby Homes, and clerical child abuse victims. Previously they have been told that there will be no consideration of their cases until after the end of the Hart Inquiry. With that inquiry having two years still to run, it is unjust to ask those, who are not included within its remit, to wait before Ministers will consider an inquiry into their abuse."