The NI Executive Office has extended the consultation on draft legislation intended to help the victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse until 10 March 2019.

The consultation was to run up to February 10, 2019. However, the Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service, David Sterling stated: “I have agreed, in response to requests from victims and survivors, to extend the 12 week consultation period by a further four weeks up to March 10, 2019. At the outset of this process I was very clear that the Executive Office would respond flexibly and positively to any legitimate request for an extension. This is a hugely important topic and it is vital that victims and survivors have every opportunity to respond.”

South Down MP, Chris Hazzard has said it is vital that victims, and wider society participate in an ongoing consultation on institutional abuse.

The proposed laws are in response to The Hart Inquiry, which found evidence of widespread and systematic abuse in children’s homes across the north of Ireland.

The South Down MP said “I welcome the extension of the consultation period by four weeks at the request of victims and survivors; their voices need to be heard and I would encourage them to respond to the consultation in whatever way they feel is appropriate.

“All support necessary should be given to assist victims and survivors to respond; the needs of the victims and survivors of institutional abuse must be met.

“Many of these people have been living with the impact of what happened to them when they were younger for many, many years.

“We need to see the recommendations of the Hart report implemented, and so it is vitally important that funding is made available in the next budget round to ensure this happens.”

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