9 October 2020 | Comment | Article by Alan Collins

HJ Talks About Abuse: Northern Irish Historic Abuse Redress Scheme

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry investigated abuse of children under the age of 18 who were living in institutions in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995. The investigation reviewed 22 institutions but noted there were further organisations identified. The report was published on 20 January 2017. The Inquiry found that abuse was ‘widespread’ within various institutions.

The link to the findings of the report can be found here.

An institution was deemed any body, society or organisation with responsibility for the care, health or welfare of children in Northern Ireland, other than a school which, during the relevant period, provided residential accommodation and took decisions about and made provision for the day to day care of children. This included organisations run by the state, churches and charities such as children’s homes, training schools, juvenile justice centres (borstals), and orphanages.

Some of the institutions named include:-

Local Authority Homes

  • Lissue Hospital, Lisburn
  • Kincora Boys’ Home, Belfast
  • Bawnmore Children’s Home, Newtownabbey
  • Fort James and Harberton House, Londonderry

Juvenile Justice Institutions

  • St Patrick’s Training School, Belfast
  • Lisnevin Training School, County Down
  • Rathgael Training School, Bangor
  • Hydebank Young Offenders’ Centre
  • Millisle Borstal

Secular Voluntary Homes

  • Barnardo’s Sharonmore Project, Newtownabbey
  • Barnardo’s Macedon, Newtownabbey

Roman Catholic Voluntary Homes

  • St Joseph’s Home, Termonbacca, Londonderry
  • Nazareth House Children’s Home, Londonderry
  • Nazareth House Children’s Home, Belfast
  • Nazareth Lodge Children’s Home, Belfast
  • De La Salle Boys’ Home, Rubane House, Kircubbin
  • St Joseph’s Training School for Girls, Middletown, Co Armagh
  • Institutions run by Good Shepherd Sisters in Derry/Londonderry, Belfast and Newry

Church of Ireland

  • Manor House, a children’s home near Lisburn (added November 2015)

In November 2019, almost three years after the release of the report findings, The Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Act 2019 received Royal Assent. The Act provides the legal framework for the establishment of the Historical Institutional Abuse Redress Board.

The scheme has been set up following the findings of the report, to compensate those who experienced abuse in residential institutions in Northern Ireland between the years 1922 and 1995. The scheme goes further to offer an additional compensation sum if the applicant was sent to Australia under the Child Migrant Programme.

It is estimated there will be thousands of individuals who are applicable to apply to the scheme. The scheme became live in March 2020 and is now welcoming applications. The scheme application deadline is March 2025.

An application can be made on behalf of someone who died on, or after, 28 April 1953 if they are the deceased persons:

  • surviving spouse;
  • civil partner;
  • cohabiting partner;
  • surviving child.

The compensation award payment starts at £10,000 if the applicant was a resident in one of the institutions. The Redress Board will obtain a copy of the applicant’s evidence from the Public Records Office Northern Ireland (PRONI) on their behalf to confirm they were a resident.

An enhanced award payment of between £10,001 and £80,000 will be made based on the applicant’s statement provided, including the nature and extent of the abuse that that person was subjected to and the ongoing impact to the applicant’s life.

A further amount of £20,000 will be awarded if the application is made by or in respect of a person who was sent to Australia under the Child Migrant Programme if the applicant has not already been awarded compensation under the Government scheme established in the wake of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

If an applicant provided evidence to the Hart Inquiry they are not required to provide any further evidence in the form of a witness statement unless such individual wishes to do so.

The scheme will also provide assistance to people with queries about:

  • benefits and housing
  • debt and personal finance
  • education and further education, jobs and training
  • searching for personal records
  • help to report abuse incidents to the Police Service of Northern Ireland

Applications will be considered by paper determination by a three-person panel consisting of a judicial member and two non-judicial members from a health and social care background. The judicial member will chair the panel.

An offer of settlement would, in theory, be made within 21 days. If the applicant does not want to accept the award amount, they have the right to appeal the determination. A single judicial member will determine the appeal. The judicial member can uphold the original decision, reverse the decision, or increase or reduce the award of the panel. A decision on the appeal is final.

We encourage anyone who wishes to discuss the scheme or has concerns about sexual abuse to visit the sexual abuse page for more information or to get in touch using the contact buttons on this page. We can advise and assist you with an application to the Northern Ireland Redress Scheme at no cost to you. 

If you would like to suggest a topic for a future episode of the HJ Talks About Abuse podcast, you can email aboutabuse@hjtalks.co.uk.


Author bio

Alan Collins is one of the best known solicitors in the field of child abuse litigation and has acted in many high profile cases, including the Jimmy Savile and Haut de la Garenne abuse scandals. Internationally, Alan works in Australia, South East Asia, Uganda, Kenya, and California representing clients in high profile sexual abuse cases. Alan also spoke at the Third Regional Workshop on Justice for Children in East Asia and the Pacific in Bangkok hosted by Unicef and HCCH (Hague Conference on Private International Law).

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