Aiken PR

The Briefing

Northern Ireland Redress Scheme opens

by Aiken PR

07/04/2020

On Tuesday 31st March 2020, the Northern Irish Redress scheme proposed in recommendations by the Historical Abuse Inquiry compensate victims of Historical Abuse was opened. While widely welcomed by those representing victims and survivors, the circumstances in which it has opened will mean it will run differently than anticipated in the short term and it has been warned payments may be slower than planned. Ciara Reynolds at BLM said that would not deter survivors from moving ahead with claims.

“While the process is slightly different than anticipated this will not put off survivors or solicitors acting on their behalf, making applications,” said Ms Reynolds.

“It had been intended that there would be familiarisation training sessions for survivors and solicitors in the working of the scheme but this has had to be re–considered.  However, in place of this an online process has been provided where concerns and queries can be raised and where access to the online application procedure is held.”

The scheme, which follows on from the recommendations made by the Historic Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI) and was created by legislation rushed through parliament before the pre Brexit proroguing, covers anyone who was in a residential institution in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995. Those applying must have suffered or witnessed abuse in that home.  It does not cover boarding schools.

“Applicants applying for themselves or on behalf of a recently deceased family member can apply directly or do so via a solicitor,” said Ciara, “And while applications can be made by an applicant personally, the NI Executive has advised that if someone wishes to speak to a solicitor they should do so over the telephone or use email in the present climate.”

There is guidance on how to apply, the costs and fees structures for lawyers and a template for structuring claims available at www.hiaredressni.uk

The scheme will allow payments of between £10000 and £100000 depending on circumstances and an initial sum of around £37.5m has been set aside.  It is anticipated that the final payouts will exceed £100m.  The NI Executive will be looking to Westminster to assist with this substantial budget and the present financial burden on government both local and national will mean that significant additional funds will need to be administered carefully.

“Credit must go to High Court Judge Adrian Colton and his staff for getting the scheme up and running at this time with all of the difficulties created recently and while the Executive has warned that getting payments out may be slower than they had hoped, applications can and should be made from now,” Ms Reynolds concluded.