THE Stormont inquiry into institutional abuse will now date from the creation of Northern Ireland in 1922.
The inquiry, headed by the former High Court Judge Sir Anthony Hart, is to examine claims of abuse at children’s homes, care institutions and borstals.
Initially it was due to only examine cases between 1945 and 1995.
In a statement, First Minister Peter Robinson said that the change was to ensure the inquiry “meets the needs of victims and survivors”.
The extension of the terms of reference means the inquiry can now decide if there were systemic failings by the state, or institutions, in their duties towards children under 18; for whom they provided residential care between 1922 and 1995.
The inquiry itself will not get its full powers until the assembly passes the necessary legislation. It is currently at the committee stage.
The legislation should be in place after Christmas and the inquiry is expected to report three years after starting.
An acknowledgment forum was established at the start of October and a registration process for victims started.
The inquiry was announced in December 2010.
It followed the damning Ryan Report in the Irish Republic which uncovered decades of endemic abuse in some religious institutions.