Victims of historical child abuse have urged Northern Ireland's politicians to release compensation which has been blocked due to Stormont's collapse, as talks aimed at restoring powersharing enter their final hours.
SAVIA - Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse, which represents people who were abused at institutions, called on Northern Ireland Secretary James Brokenshire to make provisions for victims' compensation if talks fail and a budget is introduced in Westminster.
Following an inquiry into abuse at children's homes, recommendations were made in January to the Northern Ireland Assembly to award compensation to victims and survivors.
However, just days after the report, powersharing collapsed at Stormont meaning that no government has been in place to approve the release of funds.
The parties have been given a final deadline of today to reach a deal, after which Mr Brokenshire has said he will be forced to legislate for a budget via Westminster instead.
Margaret McGuckian from SAVIA said: "It's an absolute shame and a disgrace that people have been treated like this.
"This government has said they care about victims of child abuse, but they really don't.
"What we're asking is that Mr Brokenshire includes an interim payment in the budget if he passes one at Westminster. It's the least he can do and we know he can do it."
Standing shoulder to shoulder in support of Victims of Institutional Abuse today at Stormont as they continue their long fight for Justice. pic.twitter.com/OBF8jHj3fP— John Stewart MLA (@JohnStewart1983) October 30, 2017
Green Party MLA Clare Bailey, among those attending the protest, said: "The way people have been treated is just brutal. It's retraumatising, after everything people have already been through.
"We demand that if James Brokenshire puts his budget through, they must get the compensation they deserve and which they're due."
In January, a report by the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry led by Anthony Hart, outlined a series of recommendations after sexual, physical and emotional abuse was revealed to have taken place at church and state-run institutions between 1922 and 1995.
Among the recommendations was a proposal that abuse survivors should receive compensation ranging from £7,500 to £100,000 each as part of a compensation package.
Mr Hart has suggested that institutions responsible for the abuse should make a financial contribution to the compensation fund.
Some abuse survivors have said they have been left feeling suicidal and facing financial ruin due to the impasse.