Northern Ireland

Institutional abuse campaigners 'reassured' by Peter Robinson

survivors Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Institutional abuse campaigners met with Peter Robinson at Stormont on Monday to discuss future funding for the inquiry

Institutional abuse campaigners say they have been "reassured" by the first minister that money will be available for the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA).

It follows Peter Robinson's warning that funding was under threat due to a dispute over Stormont finances.

On Monday, campaigners met Mr Robinson to raise their concerns.

The DUP said on Tuesday he believed agreement over the June monitoring paper would be "reached shortly".

In a statement to the The Nolan Show the party said the first minister "had a very constructive meeting with survivors of historical and institutional abuse".

"Mr Robinson told them how the money for the inquiry was available but the accounting officer didn't have the legal authority to spend the money until the executive agreed a June monitoring paper," it continued,

The inquiry is examining allegations of abuse in Northern Ireland care homes between 1922 and 1995.

Mr Robinson had accused Sinn Féin of "foot-dragging" over the latest financial monitoring round.

Last Friday, Mr Robinson said: "The HIA is one of the areas which requires funds from the June monitoring round.

"The accounting officer from the department, I believe, would be acting illegally if he was to allow the inquiry to proceed unless there is funds available to pay for it."

Image caption Peter Robinson blamed Sinn Féin 'foot-dragging' for putting the inquiry at risk

Three times a year Stormont departments return unspent money from their budgets to the Department of Finance.

That money is then reallocated during monitoring rounds in June, October and January.


Speaking on BBC Radio Ulster's Evening Extra programme after Monday's meeting, abuse campaigner Margaret McGuckian said she was happy with the outcome.

"He says now the parties have got together and have agreed the money was there. It will be signed off officially tomorrow, and we can say tonight that the money is there.

"Maybe after the pressure we applied and even listening to the victims on radio and TV, I think he recognises now that it shouldn't have happened and we're happy and reassured that the money was there."

The abuse campaigners also met with Sinn Féin at Stormont on Monday.

Sinn Féin Junior Minister Jennifer McCann said: "Despite claims to the contrary by the DUP's Sammy Wilson funding can be made available immediately for the historical abuse inquiry.

"As a former finance minister, Sammy Wilson is well aware that money has been released in the past outside the agreed Programme for Government or routine monitoring rounds to provide funding for flood relief and in the aftermath of the winter snow crisis.

"Sinn Féin is supporting the victims' call for the funding needed by the HIAI to continue its investigation into the abuse of children in homes to be ring-fenced."

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