In providing an overall response grounded in a wide variety of differing needs, the Government considered what would be the most effective remedy for all survivors of Mother and Baby and County Home Institutions. I am confident that the wide-ranging Action Plan for Survivors and Former Residents of Mother and Baby and County Home Institutions is fully inclusive and responds to the diverse needs of all those who are affected by the complex legacy of Mother and Baby Institutions. The actions are designed to support survivors in a number of ways into the future, as well as ensuring that what happened in the institutions is never forgotten, or repeated.
The Mother and Baby Institutions Payment Scheme is Action number 20 in the Action Plan, and sits as one element of the entire redress package of supports and measures set out in that Plan. Survivors have made it very clear that they wanted the Scheme to be non-adversarial, simple and to do no further harm. Through extensive and challenging deliberations, it was concluded that the only way of delivering this is through an approach that does not require applicants to bring forward evidence of abuse or harm suffered. Therefore, the Scheme will consist of a general payment rising based on time spent in an institution. This approach means that those who spent the longest time in these institutions, and therefore suffered most from the harsh institutional conditions, will receive the highest level of payment.
The proposals for the Mother and Baby Institutions Payment Scheme go well beyond the recommendations of the Commission of Investigation and also beyond the proposals of the Interdepartmental Group which was established to develop proposals for the Scheme. An estimated 34,000 people will benefit from the Scheme. Beyond this, the needs of all those who spent time in one of the institutions will be addressed in some way through the Government’s Action Plan.
I have been given Government approval to bring forward legislative proposals on the basis of the Scheme as outlined and work has commenced in my Department on heads of the bill for this legislation. Through the legislative process we will have the opportunity to examine any issues or concens that have been raised in relation to the Scheme.