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Abuse: Financial Redress Schemes

Oral Answers to Questions — The Executive Office – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:15 pm on 7th November 2016.

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Photo of Richie McPhillips Richie McPhillips Social Democratic and Labour Party 2:15 pm, 7th November 2016

6. Mr McPhillips asked the First Minister and deputy First Minister for an update on the provision of financial redress schemes for the victims of historical institutional abuse. (AQO 572/16-21)

Photo of Arlene Foster Arlene Foster DUP

Mr Speaker, with your permission, I will ask junior Minister Ross to answer that question.

Photo of Alastair Ross Alastair Ross DUP

The chair of the historical institutional abuse inquiry, Sir Anthony Hart, is due to deliver his report and recommendations to the Executive in January 2017. Late last year, the inquiry took the unprecedented step of gathering additional evidence through a targeted consultation with victims and survivors on financial compensation and other forms of redress, and the outcome of that consultation exercise will undoubtedly inform its recommendations. We must wait to see what Sir Anthony recommends, so it would be inappropriate to pre-empt the inquiry's findings or any future Executive decision by speculating now about redress or potential models of redress that the Executive may agree upon.

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker

We have time for a quick supplementary and a quick response from the Minister.

Photo of Richie McPhillips Richie McPhillips Social Democratic and Labour Party

We look forward to the report very soon. The First Minister and the deputy First Minister will be aware of Margaret McGuckin's comments that the financial redress scheme would cost in the region of £20 million to £30 million. Can the First Minister outline how confident she is of securing that funding? Will it be in the next financial year, and will it be ring-fenced or subject to budgetary constraint?

Photo of Alastair Ross Alastair Ross DUP

Again, I do not want to pre-empt what the report will say in January, nor do I want to pre-empt what the Executive will agree in response to it. I point out to the Member that considerable funding is available at present and the Executive Office is providing support services to victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse. Since January 2012, for example, we have been able to provide crisis counselling through Lifeline — that is, face-to-face, by phone or at the offices in Belfast and Londonderry; since October 2012, we have been able to provide a drop-in centre for Survivors (North West) in Londonderry; and, since August 2013, we have been providing support services to victims and survivors through Contact NI as well. There is also a small grants scheme that has allowed us to fund four victims' and survivors' groups since 2016-17, namely Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse (SAVIA); Survivors (North West); Rosetta Trust; and Birth Mothers for Justice NI. Without wanting to pre-empt the result of the report in January — I do not want to make any comment — I want to just put on record the amount of support that we are giving to victims and survivors at present.

Photo of Robin Newton Robin Newton Speaker 2:30 pm, 7th November 2016

Members, that ends the period for listed questions. We now move to 15 minutes of topical questions.