By Dominic McGrath, PA
A redress scheme for mother and baby home survivors in the Republic of Ireland came in for sustained criticism at a Stormont committee on Wednesday.
Under the current plan in the Republic, survivors of the mother and baby institutions will be eligible for payments of up to €65,000.
However, babies born in an institution but spending less than six months there are not eligible for financial support.
Victims and survivors from Northern Ireland, during an appearance at the Executive Office committee, urged Stormont politicians and officials to take a different approach.
The Executive has committed to the full implementation of a series of recommendations proposed by an expert panel, including a public inquiry and redress scheme.
Paul McClarey, who was adopted from a mother and baby home in the 1960s, spoke of how he traced his birth mother in his early 20s.
He discovered that she had died at the age of 29 in tragic circumstances.
He said: “When we the babies, now adults, hear of the shameful proposals for redress as announced in the ROI last week, we are shocked, horrified, and frankly sickened.
“To say that redress is only open to children who spend more than six months in the institution shows a lack of empathy and compassion on a monumental scale.
“What happened the mothers and those children in those institutions was wrong and rightly redress is long overdue. But they totally missed the point.
“They do not understand us and take any account of the scientific and medical research which clearly shows the earlier the impact of trauma, the longer they affect. We will not accept any shape or form redress proposals like this.”
He urged that victims and survivors “continue to remain front and centre in the process until the end”.
Committee chair Sinead McLauglin, who was visibly overcome with emotion during the testimony, called the homes “Ireland’s shame”.
She said: “We are running out of time. We have to address these issues and we have to address them with urgency.”
Other members of the committee praised the bravery of the victims.
“I have 15 years up here. I’ve never heard such powerful testimony about any subject,” Independent MLA Trevor Lunn said.