Hay: Institutions must compensate victims

Termonbacca pictured during its time as a home for boys.
Termonbacca pictured during its time as a home for boys.

The DUP’s Willie Hay has again demanded institutions that failed to protect children from abuse in State, voluntary and church run homes in the North between 1922 and 1995 be made pay their fair share of compensation to victims.

The unionist grandee, speaking during a debate in the British House of Lords in London, argued that the “institutions responsible for abuse should pay up” and that it would be “totally wrong if all the money came from the Government”.

He was referring, of course, to the recommendation of Judge Anthony Hart’s recommendaiton in his ‘Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse’ in 2017 that a proposed lump sum payment to former residents of Termonbacca - among other homes - should be paid out by the government and not the institutions.

The former Derry City councillor, who now takes the title Lord Hay of Ballyore in the House of Lords, stated: “It is quite some time since the Hart report was delivered to the Government. I know that David Sterling, head of the Civil Service, was working up a Bill to try to resolve the issue, but I am told that he is now saying clearly that it has to be dealt with by a Minister, which slightly worries me.

“Nonetheless, if there is anything that all the parties can agree on, the Government should grab it, because that does not often happen.

“I have raised this subject in the House before, because I believe that the institutions responsible for the abuse should pay up as well.

“It would be totally wrong if all the money came from the Government. I know that the issue has been raised in the other place as well, and I say to the Government that nothing should stop them trying to address it.”

The senior DUP man told colleagues that the situation was urgent given the age of some of the victims that suffered abuse in a variety of institutions over the 70 year period examined by Judge Hart.

Many have already died and others are dying and the failure to tackle the matter was failing them, he told the House..

“Some survivors of the abuse are getting old: some are very elderly, and some have died.

“Relations have died, too, and those people have not seen the full output of what they deserve.

“I appeal to the Government and I hope that, ​with the support of all the political parties in Northern Ireland, and the support shown throughout this House and in the other House as well, when the issue has been raised, they will find a way of dealing with it.

“We should make sure that we do not create a major problem for devolution in Northern Ireland when it comes back,” he added.

He was contributing to a debate on the Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Bill, which is proceeding through Westminster at present.

Reporting in 2017 Judge Hart said victims should be compensated under a State-funded scheme partly due to the fact that his inquiry had not “investigated every institution in respect of which there have been allegations of abuse.”