Lord Empey has called on the Northern Ireland Office to end the delay in providing reparations to victims of historical institutional abuse. The call comes as the Northern Ireland Budget (Anticipation and Adjustments) Bill is due before the House of Lords (Tuesday 27th March 2018).
Lord Empey said:
“In the House I will be drawing the attention of fellow peers to the lines in the NI Budget that refer to the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry and its findings. In a briefing to MLAs on 30th January 2018 David Sterling said there would be no payments to victims in 2018/2019. Why? The Executive office budget for 2018/19 contains the following item in its budget proposal before the House tomorrow; 'actions associated with the preparation and implementation of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry Report and Findings;' - I submit that this gives the Executive Office the necessary legal authority to make payments to victims.
“This is now a humanitarian issue. There is unanimous political support for such payments to be made - not a single politician opposes this. Over 500 people attended Sir Anthony Hart's inquiry and more have subsequently come forward; a number died during the inquiry and more have since.
“Delays in getting detailed agreement from the various Religious Orders that are implicated should not be justification for adding further to the torment of victims.
“There is no constitutional issue here to be addressed- even the Bill before the House itself is evidence of the crisis at Stormont and a humanitarian matter like this should take precedence.”