Northern Ireland

Historical Institutional Abuse: Karen Bradley could face new challenge

Karen Bradley Image copyright PA
Image caption Karen Bradley has been under intense political pressure to legislate for a compensation scheme

The Northern Ireland Secretary may face a new legal challenge over her failure to bring legislation to Westminster to compensate institutional abuse victims.

A High Court ruling, which last month found that Karen Bradley's stance was not unlawful, is to be appealed.

Mrs Bradley has been under intense political pressure to legislate for a compensation scheme in keeping with the recommendations of the Hart inquiry.

The NI Secretary has said she wants to resolve the issue as soon as possible.

She has asked the Northern Ireland political parties to answer to respond to a document from the executive office dealing with 15 issues.

The Hart Inquiry found that children's homes run by some churches, charities and state institutions in Northern Ireland were the scene of widespread abuse and mistreatment of young residents.

The chair of the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry, Sir Anthony Hart, recommended compensation, a memorial and a public apology to abuse survivors.

He said a tax-free lump sum payment should be made to all survivors, including in homes and institutions that were not covered by the inquiry.

A new legal case is being taken by a man in his 70s in an attempt to have the secretary of state compelled to implement a redress scheme for victims of institutional abuse.

According to the man's solicitor, he is seeking to have the case heard as soon as possible.

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Media captionSir Anthony Hart recommended government-funded compensation

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

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."

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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