Northern Ireland: redress scheme for institutional child abuse victims a 'momentous' step forward

© Abuse victims gather at the launch of the Inquiry report © © Hugh Russell

“Today is a vindication of a long and difficult battle to secure justice for the thousands of children who suffered cruelty when they should have been receiving care” – Patrick Corrigan

Amnesty International has welcomed an announcement by the Northern Ireland Executive that a redress scheme for victims of historic institutional child abuse is now open for application.

The new scheme is the most recent win in the long-fought campaign for justice for those who experienced horrendous suffering in scores of children’s residential homes in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995. Amnesty International has been supporting the campaign since 2010, which culminated in the establishment of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry headed by Sir Anthony Hart and today’s creation of the Redress Board.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International UK’s Northern Ireland Programme Director, said:

“This is a momentous day for survivors. Today is a vindication of a long and difficult battle to secure justice for the thousands of children who suffered cruelty when they should have been receiving care.

“The First and deputy First Minister deserve credit for sticking to the timetable promised to survivors, despite the huge challenges presented by the coronavirus crisis. We thank them, the officials behind the scenes and the new Redress Board who have made this possible.

“The current Covid-19 situation will present many difficulties for survivors in applying for redress. Solicitors’ offices are closed, as is the public records office, which some victims will need to provide evidence of their time in care. Not all survivors will be in a position to use modern technology to pursue their application. It will be important for the Redress Board to provide as much information and support as possible to reassure and guide survivors at this time.”

Jon McCourt, chairperson of the Survivors North West group said:

“Today, we remember all those survivors who have not lived to see this day. Their families are in our thoughts.

“We want to thank everyone who has helped to support our campaign for justice over many years. In particular, we thank Patrick Corrigan and Amnesty International for their unwavering support, Professors Patricia Lundy and Kathleen Mahoney of Ulster University for wise counsel, and Brendan McAllister in his role as Interim Advocate.”

Gerry McCann, chairperson of the Rosetta Trust survivors’ group said:

We are now almost at the end of our long journey to justice. Today is a huge milestone on that journey.

“In addition to thanking the Executive, we want to take this opportunity to thank Julian Smith for his leadership when Secretary of State in securing the passage of the redress legislation, and David Sterling, Head of the Civil Service, who worked tirelessly behind the scenes on our behalf.

“Our work is not over. We will continue to support survivors through the time ahead as they make applications and deal with solicitors and the Redress Board.”

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