Northern Ireland

HIA compensation: Advocate calls for meeting with Julian Smith

Julian Smith Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Brendan McAllister wants to meet the NI secretary as soon as possible to discuss his intended course of action

The interim advocate for victims of historical abuse has called for an urgent meeting with Julian Smith.

Victims have been calling on the government to legislate for compensation, in the absence of devolution at Stormont.

A debate on compensation payments was dropped in the House of Commons on Monday.

Brendan McAllister said that he wants to meet Mr Smith to explore immediate measures that may be within his power.

The secretary of state previously met victims in August and told them their compensation was a priority.

Parliament was officially suspended for five weeks in the early hours of Tuesday morning, with MPs not due back until 14 October.

'Path remains uncertain'

Following the proroguing of Parliament, Mr McAllister said: "Despite your own best intentions and earnest efforts to bring forward primary legislation, it is clear that, for the foreseeable future, the legislative path remains uncertain and potentially beyond your control."

He added: "Victims need certainty and they need timely assistance."

In a statement, a UK government spokesperson said the secretary of state "remains committed to supporting victims' groups and has asked that Historical Institutional Abuse legislation be progressed as a matter of urgent priority".

"He has made very clear his commitment to meeting victims' groups and the interim advocate regularly to discuss this important issue."

On Monday in the House of Commons, independent unionist MP Lady Hermon accused the government of being "disrespectful" to the victims by dropping a debate about the subject.

Mr Smith said he had asked that redress legislation for the victims of Historical Institutional Abuse be included in the next Queen's Speech.

Image caption Brendan McAllister's role is to act on behalf of victims in the absence of a fully established redress board

Brendan McAllister was announced as the interim advocate for victims earlier in July.

His role is to act on behalf of victims in the absence of a fully-established redress board and to take their concerns to the government.

A redress scheme, in which victims would have been paid between £7,500 and £100,000, was one of the recommendations of the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry (HIA).

The payments require enabling legislation at Westminster.

The government has committed to bringing forward legislation on HIA compensation before the end of the year - if Stormont is not restored by then.

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