Press Release

Committee Reassures Victims About Abuse Inquiry Bill's Progress

Session: 2012/2013

Date: Monday, 17 September 2012

Reference: COFMDFM 01/12/13

The Northern Ireland Assembly Committee for the Office of the First Minister/deputy First Minister wants to reassure victims and survivors that their concerns about the Historical Institutional Abuse Bill will be raised with Department officials.

The assurance follows on from a briefing from Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse (SAVIA) to the Committee at its meeting on 5 September. The Committee also heard from the Human Rights Commission as part of its scrutiny of the Bill, which is currently passing through the Assembly. The Committee has received 15 written submissions raising a number of significant issues.

In order to consider these issues properly and allow time to hear evidence from SAVIA and other stakeholders, the Committee agreed to seek an extension of its scrutiny period until 26 October 2012. This extension request will be formally debated by the Assembly on Monday 17 September.

Chairperson of the Committee, Mike Nesbitt MLA said: “Committee members are acutely aware of the importance of this Inquiry and this Bill to victims and survivors. 

“It is essential that the Committee ensures that the Bill is both fit for purpose and that it is progressed as quickly as possible. It is for that reason that the Committee unanimously agreed to seek a short extension of the Committee Stage to allow OFMDFM to progress the Bill before Christmas. 

Deputy Chairperson, Chris Lyttle MLA said: “It is important for the Committee to have the time to listen to the concerns of victims and others about the Bill, raise them with OFMDFM, and strive to get it right.

“We also are keen to encourage members of the public to see how the Committee is progressing this Bill. Evidence sessions can be watched live on the Assembly’s website and people can also read the Official Report which can also be found on the Committee’s page on the Assembly website.”

The Committee will present a written report to the Assembly by Friday 26 October 2012. The Assembly will subsequently debate the Bill and, at that time, Ministers, the Committee and individual members can put forward amendments for debate and inclusion.

Notes to Editors:

1. On 12 September 2012 the Committee took evidence from organisations which have worked with victims of institutional abuse - Amnesty International, Victim Support, Contact NI, the Nexus Institute and Ciaran McAteer & Co.

2. On 19 September 2012 the Committee plans to take evidence from institutions that provided residential care for children over the period 1945-1995.

3. On 26 September 2012 the Committee plans to hear from OFMDFM officials responding to the issues raised by stakeholders.  The Committee also hopes to hear again from the Chair of the Inquiry. 

4. At subsequent meetings the Committee will be considering the terms of reference of the Inquiry and the clauses of the bill, and whether the concerns raised by SAVIA and others – in light of discussion with OFMDFM officials – need to be addressed by way of amendment.

Committee Chairperson: Mike Nesbitt MLA

Deputy Chairperson: Chris Lyttle MLA

Thomas Buchanan MLA
Trevor Clarke MLA
Colum Eastwood MLA
Megan Fearon MLA
William Humphrey MLA
Danny Kinahan MLA
Alex Maskey MLA
Bronwyn McGahan MLA
George Robinson MLA 

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