Junior Minister Martina Anderson has said she hopes the inquiry into historical institutional child abuse can begin as soon as possible.
The Foyle MLA said her department at Stormont are currently making preparations for the statutory probe, which is expected to last three years and will be held in Belfast and Derry.
Outlining the progress made since the announcement of the inquiry, Ms Anderson said; “Since September we have had officials working with the Department of Health to agree interim support for the victims. We have draft terms of reference for the inquiry which will now be consulted on.
“We have also agreed the administrative staffing levels to support the inquiry. The inquiry secretary and deputy secretary will be appointed by the end of this month,” she added.
Ms Anderson also said candidates for the position of chairperson are also being considered. “We are considering potential candidates for the chair and the panel and we are being careful to appoint the right person. We are then considering legislation options. Our officials are working on the business case to give us the power to spend money for the inquiry. Once that approval is secured we will bring it to the Executive,” she explained.
Explaining how the process will work, the junior minister said; “There is going to be an acknowledgement forum where victims and survivors will be able to recount their experience on a confidential basis. The inquiry chair will be given an outline of that experience. The inquiry chair is going to consider the response and request any more evidence and he or she will have the power to compel.
“We want the inquiry to report to us six months after it is concluded. The victims and survivors have asked for it to be three years, no longer,” she said.