Progress needs to be expedited on historical institutional abuse and mother and baby homes redress, says Bradshaw

Alliance MLA Paula Bradshaw has warned progress must be expedited on historical clerical and institutional abuse as well as on the mother and baby homes scandal, after questioning the Head of the Civil Service and senior Departmental officials on the matters.

Paula Bradshaw Institutional Abuse

The South Belfast MLA spoke to the officials as part of her new role as Chair of the Assembly’s Executive Office Committee. She said the long-running nature of these issues meant progress was urgently needed.

“Eight years ago I met with officials who told me they were drawing up the terms of reference for the historical clerical child abuse research,” she said.

“Clearly, there have been a number of false starts there and worryingly, with all that time past, it remains an outstanding action for the Executive Office. I have had it clarified this project is now split into three parts, but I have made clear my party’s view these must now proceed with urgency.

“During that time, there has also been talk around the institutions themselves contributing to the redress scheme for the victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse, a framework for which could have been in place even before the end of the Hart Inquiry, given a redress scheme was always going to be among the recommendations. I have had it clarified there is now a framework for such contributions and, significantly, two institutions are now nearly ready to make payments with two more close behind.

“Given we are assured there will now be greater pace and agility on progressing such issues, we must now see expedited progress on these issues. With assurances I have received, I will expect to see concrete progress, not least on the actual payments for historical institutional abuse, early in the new financial year.

“Also, we must not see a similar delay on redress for the victims of the mother and baby homes scandal. It will be for the First Minister and deputy First Minister to provide direction on how that proceeds imminently, and this must be done with appropriate urgency.

“These are issues of considerable urgency given, for victims of all these appalling scandals, time is clearly of the essence. My colleagues and I will continue to pursue the concrete action necessary using every avenue available to us in the restored Assembly.”