Northern Ireland

HIA: Jim Lappin 'feels worse off than before inquiry'

Jim Lappin
Image caption Jim Lappin said he was the victim of "every kind of abuse" after being taken into state care as a child

A child abuse victim has said he feels worse off now than he did before a Northern Ireland inquiry into historical institutional abuse.

Jim Lappin, originally from Newcastle, County Down, has said he was the victim of "every kind of abuse" after being taken into state care as a child.

A bill enabling compensation payments to be made to NI abuse victims has made its way through the House of Lords.

However, it is not clear if there is time for it to go back to the Commons.

It would need to pass by next Tuesday night if it is to get through before Parliament is dissolved for the 12 December election.

"Every time I hear these politicians bickering it makes me physically sick," Mr Lappin told BBC Radio Ulster's Good Morning Ulster.

"Disappointed big time - sad, sick annoyed, depressed.

"Every emotion you could think of just flows back into people like me, because we remember the hurt and harm that was caused to us."

Image caption Campaigners have been calling for compensation to be implemented since early 2017

The Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry, chaired by the late Sir Anthony Hart, investigated historical allegations of child abuse in residential institutions run by religious, charitable and state organisations.

It examined 22 institutions and its remit covered a 73-year period ranging from 1995 back to the foundation of Northern Ireland.

The inquiry's final report in January 2017 recommended that all survivors of institutional abuse receive tax-free, lump sum payments ranging from £7,500 to £100,000.

However, they are still waiting for those payments.

"I feel worse now than I did before the inquiry - my living conditions have slightly improved, but mentally I've deteriorated," Mr Lappin said.

"I've been on heavy duty sleeping tablets, anti-depressant tablets and I'm back on alcohol, a drug that's very bad for my health because I'm living here with HIV.

"Stress is not good for my health with this illness - living with the unknown every single day for four years is definitely not good for anybody's health, never mind mine."

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Sir Anthony Hart died before his recommendations were acted upon

He said he has been left in about £2,000 of debt after returning to Northern Ireland for the inquiry - he had been living homeless in London.

"It's a huge amount for me, but it's not a huge amount for people who are being paid for not doing their job," he said.

Mr Lappin said events of the last couple of years had left him totally disillusioned with politicians.

"I will not be voting for anybody in December, I will never ever go into a polling booth in my life again," he said.

"What's the point in voting for any of them?"

'Redress they deserve'

On Thursday, a Downing Street spokesperson said the government hopes Parliament will find the time to pass the HIA bill before it is dissolved.

The House of Lords finished its work on the bill earlier on Thursday.

Victims have lobbied for compensation since the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry ended in 2017.

A Downing Street statement said the government was committed to ensuring victims got the "redress they deserve".

"That is why it was one of the first bills introduced following the Queen's Speech," it continued.

It added that "given the importance and sensitivity of the bill" the government hoped it will be scrutinised and passed before Parliament is dissolved on Wednesday.

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