Image copyright Pacemaker Image caption Sir Declan Morgan is the lord chief justice for Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland's top judge has said the lack of progress on compensation for victims of historical institutional abuse is "shocking".

The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry studied allegations of abuse in 22 homes and other residential institutions between 1922 to 1995.

A report in 2017 recommended that victims should receive compensation.

But the process of securing compensation stalled when devolution collapsed in the same week.

In the two-and-a-half years since then, the HIA victims have been campaigning for compensation.

Sir Anthony Harte, who headed the inquiry, died in July.

'Profound disappointment'

On Friday, Lord Chief Justice of Northern Ireland Sir Declan Morgan said it was "shocking" that victims are still awaiting action.

He said that before Sir Anthony died he had expressed "profound disappointment" at the lack of progress.

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Sir Declan said it "epitomises how the lack of an assembly impacts negatively on the lives of Northern Ireland's citizens".

Image caption Campaigners have been calling for HIA compensation to be implemented since early 2017

The government has committed to taking legislation through parliament by the end of the year if devolution at Stormont is not restored.

'Positive outcome'

Towards the end of August, victims were given renewed hope of an earlier resolution after a meeting with Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith.

Although Sir Declan said he understood work was "in hand" and "a positive outcome should be achievable in the coming months", he appealed to the government to "drive forward the necessary legislation as soon as possible, so that Sir Anthony's work is fulfilled and the victims are given the redress that is so long overdue".

'Impossible burden'

Sir Declan also said that the courts were not "an appropriate or effective way" of dealing with legacy issues.

"The lack of progress in establishing structures to deal with the legacy of our past means that those who seek truth, justice or information often feel that they have no option but to come before the courts to get those answers," he said.

"It places an impossible burden upon the case list managed by Mr Justice Maguire and the resources available to the courts and other agencies dealing with the administration of justice."

Although he stressed it was not his role "to enter the political fray", he added that there is "a need for both political agreement on the mechanism for dealing with the past and significant additional resources if we are to move forward in any meaningful way".