29 Jan 2011

Government inquiry into child abuse in Northern Ireland institutions announced after pressure from clergy abuse survivors

The Guardian - UK December 16, 2010

Inquiry to be held into child abuse in Northern Ireland institutions
Martin McGuinness says legal process will in time give closure to people who have felt they were not listened to

Press Association

An inquiry will be held into the history of child abuse inside institutions in Northern Ireland, the executive said today; it will report to the assembly before July.

Deputy first minister Martin McGuinness said he believed many wanted to come forward to be part of a legal process that "will in the time ahead hopefully give closure to people who for many decades felt they were not worthy or listened to.

"We believe that they are worthy, and entitled to be listened to and be treated as first class citizens."

The move follows pressure from victims to have a process similar to last year's Ryan report in the republic.

The Ryan commission revealed a catalogue of physical, sexual and emotional abuse in Ireland by priests and nuns as well as attempts to cover up the truth and move offenders between parishes.

Northern Ireland victims have met the office of the first minister and deputy first minister to seek a similar process.

First minister Peter Robinson said he did not envisage an inquiry of the scale of Bloody Sunday.

"If it is an inquiry that is more investigative, which can be done with fewer personnel then it is very much a smaller figure," he said.

Contact has been made with the police. Civil servants will represent the nine departments involved but they can seek specialist expertise.

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Irish Times - December 18, 2010

Decision to set up NI child abuse inquiry widely welcomed

by Dan Keenan

THE DECISION by leaders of the Stormont Executive to establish an inquiry into institutional child abuse in Northern Ireland has been well received.

First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness made the announcement following calls for an investigation and a motion of support passed by the Assembly.

Mr Robinson said he did not envisage a drawn-out and expensive inquiry along the lines of the Saville report into the Bloody Sunday killings in 1972.

“If it is an inquiry that is more investigative which can be done with fewer personnel then it is very much a smaller figure,” he said.

Mr McGuinness said it would “hopefully give closure to people who have . . . felt that they were not worthy or listened to”.

However, this has prompted a solicitor representing some victims of abuse to say an inquiry needed to go beyond recognition that grave injustices took place.

“A report that says there was institutional abuse would certainly not suffice . . . it is the level and the nature and the recommendations that come out of this report which will be the important thing,” said Hugh Leslie.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland programme director, welcomed the announcement of an inquiry.

“This is exactly what we have been calling for,” he said “and, for the victims, the announcement will come as welcome news in advance of Christmas”.

He added that Amnesty will seek to ensure the inquiry meets the needs of victims and the human rights obligations of government.

Nationalists also applauded the decision to set up an investigation.

SDLP Assembly member Conall McDevitt said any inquiry “will only really mean something when the terms of reference have been agreed with survivors and the terms of redress have been put in place”.

He added: “Survivors will be disappointed that there is no commitment at this stage to an apology . . . The taskforce will also have to address the issue of redress . . . as well as moving immediately to meet their specific needs. These include specific counselling support and advice.”

Sinn Féin also welcomed the announcement. Derry Assembly member Martina Anderson said: “Despite the harrowing nature of [victims’] stories I have no doubt that they will welcome this announcement.”

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