Northern Ireland

Historical abuse: SoS hits back at 'shying away' claims

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Media captionKaren Bradley: 'I am not shying away from my responsibility'

Karen Bradley has denied she is "shying away" from her responsibility to help release compensation for victims of historical institutional abuse (HIA).

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds made the accusation in the House of Commons.

Pressure has been building on the NI secretary to take control and push legislation through Westminster.

But she has said she needs the political parties to respond to a document from the executive office dealing with 15 HIA issues.

On Tuesday, it emerged victims could face a two-year wait for their payment claims to be processed.

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Image caption A small group of campaigners protested outside the NI secretary's garden party in Enniskillen on Tuesday afternoon

On Wednesday, Mrs Bradley faced questions from a number of MPs who urged her to "end the agony" of victims, with Labour's Conor McGinn accusing her of not understanding the "sense of outrage" across Northern Ireland about the matter.

The secretary of state said she had met the victims and understood what they were going through - and added that there was an "opportunity" to make quick progress.

"But I cannot do it alone, I need the guidance and support of the parties in Northern Ireland because they will have to implement whatever institutions are created," she added.

"I am not delaying anything, I am determined to act for those people and I will do whatever it takes to do so."

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Media captionSir Anthony Hart recommended government-funded compensation

On Monday, six Stormont party leaders sent a joint letter to Karen Bradley saying they wanted her to press on with legislation through Westminster.

Northern Ireland has been without a functioning devolved government since January 2017, when the power-sharing parties split in a bitter row - meaning some decisions have been stalled due to the absence of executive ministers.

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