Northern Ireland

Date set for historical institutional abuse inquiry

The first public hearings of the historical institutional abuse inquiry should begin in January 2014, the inquiry chairman has told a Northern Ireland Assembly committee.

Sir Anthony Hart said the inquiry had already been contacted by 281 people.

Some had withdrawn or did not fit the criteria.

"We are probably looking at around 260 at the moment," he said. The inquiry's acknowledgement forum had spoken to 173 of them.

Speaking at a meeting of the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) committee, Sir Anthony said there were 12 people who had contacted the inquiry whose cases were outside the terms of reference, and almost all of those said they had been abused at school.

He said there had been suggestions that the inquiry's remit should be widened.

Sir Anthony said that if the remit were widened the inquiry would almost certainly have to ask for its three-year limit to be lifted.

"The people who in my view would find their interests being pushed back are the very people for whose benefit this inquiry has been set up," he said.