Immediate steps towards establishing a compensation fund for the victims of historical institutional abuse can be taken under a plan proposed by Sinn Féin today, the party’s Northern Leader Michelle O’Neill has said.
Commenting on the proposed legal and financial framework, which would also seek contributions from various religious orders and the British Government, she said victims deserved clarity amid the ongoing political uncertainty.
Michelle O’Neill said: “Sinn Féin has always fully supported the victims and survivors of historic abuse.
“We welcomed the publication of the panel report from the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry recommending redress payments and we want to see those recommendations implemented as soon as possible.
“However, given the ongoing political uncertainty and the need to provide clarity to the victims of institutional abuse, I have today made a formal proposal to the leaders of the main parties.
“The proposal would see immediate steps to ringfence funds for a compensation fund and to seek contributions from the British Government and the religious orders responsible for running institutions where abuse took place.
“It would also see work beginning immediately to provide the legal and legislative framework to enable the redress panel and commissioner’s office to be established in statute.
“I believe this is the best way to give clarity to victims and to begin taking tangible measures aimed at addressing their concerns so I am looking forward to working with the other party leaders without delay.”
NOTES TO EDITOR:
The Sinn Féin proposal involves:
· The parties agreeing to commit an initial amount to the compensation fund for victims as an agreed political position to be put to the Head of the Civil Service and the Department of Finance;
· Agreeing to seek a significant contribution from the British Government on the basis that they were the responsible authority for a considerable period during which the abuse took place in these institutions.
· Agreeing to ask the Head of the Civil Service to instruct The Executive Office to prepare legislation to put the redress panel and commissioner’s office in statute.
· Agreeing to write jointly to religious orders and institutions to underline their financial and other responsibilities in relation to redress for victims; and finally,
· Agreeing to ask The Executive Office to provide a draft paper on implementation of the recommendations for discussion and agreement.
· Agree to ask TEO to urgently consider making Interim Payments and to formalise discussions with the Expert Panel on Redress.