Northern Ireland Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse Fiona Ryan has welcomed new guidance launched by the Law Society to help solicitors in Northern Ireland make applications to the Historical Institutional Abuse Redress Board on behalf of their clients.
Following an Inquiry which investigated the abuse of children aged under 18 in institutions between 1922 and 1995 in Northern Ireland, the Inquiry Report made a number of recommendations including establishing a Redress Board and a financial compensation scheme for victims.
Solicitors are responsible for providing advice and supporting victims and survivors determine their eligibility to submit an application, prepare their application to the Historical Institutional Abuse Redress Board, and assist victims as they submit any necessary supporting evidence to the Board.
The new best practice guidance provides important information for legal practitioners regarding the entirety of the Historical Institutional Abuse redress process and ensures that solicitors are equipped to follow a trauma-informed and victim focused approach.
The Commissioner, who promotes the interests of victims and survivors of non-recent institutional childhood abuse, has commended the new guidance as an important step forward for survivors who apply for Redress and for the solicitors and legal professionals who advise them.
Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse, Fiona Ryan, said:
“After advocating for the guidance and working closely with the Law Society on this new best practice guidance for solicitors, I am pleased to see the publication of a document that will assist legal practitioners and victims and survivors as they go through the Historical Institutional Abuse redress scheme process.
From when this Office was established in December 2020 to June 2023, we have responded to 1174 cases and enquiries from 772 individuals, with financial compensation redress being the main issue raised in half of all contacts from victims and survivors.
It is so important that victims and survivors are aware of their entitlement to apply for redress and to make the choice that is right for them. This is why this new best practice guidance is significant. For those who choose to seek redress, the best practice guidance will help to ensure that the process is completed , with the best interests of victims and survivors at its centre”.
See full guidance here.