Fiona Ryan was appointed to the role of Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse by then First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill and took up the post on 14 December 2020.
The Commissioner's Office is a Corporation Sole and the Commissioner fulfils the role of the Board.
On 20 January 2017 the Report of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry was published outlining the key findings and recommendations of the inquiry. The report found systemic failings in relation to the religious and voluntary bodies that provided and organised institutions and on the part of the public authorities in their duties towards children in their care. One of the recommendations contained in the report was the appointment of a statutory Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse.
The Commissioner's Office was established under the auspices of the Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Act 2019, which received Royal Assent on 5 November 2019. The Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse exists primarily to fulfil the organisation’s statutory duties, acting as the primary voice for Victims and Survivors of historical institutional abuse within the wider strategic context of the implementation of the Inquiry report recommendations.
Implementation of the Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Act 2019 falls under the draft Programme for Government outcome 8: “We care for others and we help those in need”.