A DUP voter has written to First Minister Arlene Foster begging her to support a compensation scheme for those who were abused in care in Northern Ireland.
Cyril Glass, a former resident of Rathgael Training School who has given evidence to Sir Anthony Hart’s ongoing inquiry into institutional abuse, said in the letter that he was writing because of “my disappointment with your party’s very obvious disinterest in victims and survivors’ need for redress”.
Referring to a meeting at Stormont which both he and Mrs Foster attended, Mr Glass said that “to be honest your disinterest in it [financial redress] absolutely amazed me.
“You then looked at junior minister Emma Pengelly for some support in the subject. She then talked a lot of legal stuff that I just don’t understand.”
Last November, Sir Anthony said that “from the evidence we have heard so far we will recommend that there should be a scheme to award financial compensation to those children who suffered abuse in children’s homes and other institutions in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995”.
Mr Glass said that there was a pressing need for compensation because “a lot of them have NOT survived as they have died...including my own twin brother”.
He said it would be “unthinkable” for the issue of compensation for those who suffered in state-run institutions to remain unaddressed for several more years “as some [victims] unfortunately won’t be here in three years”.
He added: “I will finish this letter by asking this party that I have voted for, for more years than I care to remember, to help me and the many other victims of institutional abuse to get what we deserve – justice to be able in our later years to have some comfort that we have never had due to addictions, unemployment, family breakdown, etc...I would like to continue to give my support for the DUP so please help.”
A DUP spokesman said: “The DUP was central in establishing this inquiry. We have supported it at every turn. When the inquiry was set up, we said we would consider the report in full when the work had been completed and we would then decide on a way forward.
“We are acutely aware of the sensitivities of the issue but that remains our position.”
The electorate eligible to vote in the Assembly election has risen by more than 50,000 since the last Assembly poll five years ago.
However, proportionate to the increase in the population there has been little change in those eligible to vote on May 5. Since 2011, the eligible electorate has increased by 50,375 to 1.275 million. But in the same period the population has increased by almost exactly 50,000 people.
The area in which there has been the smallest increase is West Belfast which has gone up by just 1,555 voters. The greatest increase is in Upper Bann where an extra 5,783 voters are on the register.
lEnvironmental Hustings: Lough Neagh Discovery Centre, Oxford Island, April 22, 10am. (NI Environment Link).
lLagan Valley: Vineyard Church (Altona Business Park), April 26, 7.30pm. (EA/CARE).
lN Antrim: The Braid, April 27, Ballymena, 7.30pm (Organised by trade union Unite, focused on employment).
lSouth Belfast: Agape Centre (238 Lisburn Road), April 27, 7.30pm. (Organised by ‘Challenges’, chaired by William Crawley).
lNorth Down: Kings Church Bangor (Seacliff Road), April 28, 7pm.
If you are organising a hustings event, email email@example.com
Tory libel backing
The NI Conservatives have backed calls to reform the libel law to strengthen free speech. Candidate Frank Shivers said it was “shameful” that the DUP had blocked reform.