NI: Mother and baby homes redress scheme ‘should run in parallel’ with inquiry

NI: Mother and baby homes redress scheme 'should run in parallel' with inquiry

A redress scheme for survivors of mother and baby homes should be established to run in parallel with a public inquiry, the Northern Ireland Executive has been told.

Jon McCourt, chairperson of victims’ group Survivors North West, told an event organised by Amnesty International and Ulster University that survivors should not have to wait years for redress as with the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI).

Mr McCourt said: “There’s no reason why a redress scheme should not be put in place alongside the inquiry, rather than survivors having to wait years for a scheme to be set up after the inquiry concludes and years more for it to pay it support to often very elderly people.

“It is clear from the research already completed by the universities that serious abuse was widespread and systemic in these mother and baby homes.”

The Executive last month established a “truth recovery design team” to work with victims and survivors over six months to establish the terms of reference for a victim-centred independent investigation announced in January.

The Amnesty/UU event was the first in a series of online events aimed at survivors to help learn the lessons of past inquiries when designing the new investigation into mother and baby homes.

Mr McCourt said: “My message to survivors is simple: don’t suffer the same delays we experienced. Demand a redress process in tandem with an inquiry.

“It is imperative that those affected living outside of this jurisdiction are treated equally when it comes to redress. There should be no territorial limitation on benefits exemption for redress payments.”

Patrick Corrigan, co-organiser of the event and Amnesty’s Northern Ireland programme director, said: “Learning lessons from previous inquiries is key to getting this one right for survivors of mother and baby and Magdalene laundry institutions.

“We have a golden opportunity to put in place an inquiry, and other related support processes like redress, to meet the needs of victims and survivors. It is important that survivors get involved in the design of the inquiry now so that crucial decisions are not made without them.”

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