17/12/2010

Institutional Abuse Probe Underway

A task force is being set up to liaise with NI Government departments about an inquiry into the extent of child abuse in Catholic church and State-run institutions in Northern Ireland.

The NI probe comes on foot of the Ryan Commission and the associated Murphy Report in the Irish Republic and its damning findings.

The announcement on the inquiry was made on Thursday by the Stormont First Minister Peter Robinson and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. They said the Executive had agreed to hold an inquiry into historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland.

An interdepartmental taskforce has been set up to consider the nature of the inquiry and bring back to the Executive recommendations on how this can be taken forward.

This will require examining various formats and engaging in consultations with a number of groups here and in other jurisdictions. This will also include listening to the voices of victims themselves.

A statement said that the Executive does not underestimate the complexities of dealing with this issue and also understands the need to bring closure for the victims and survivors. Ministers hope to move quickly to resolve the issue but also recognised the need to take the time to get the process right.
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"The Executive is very aware of the suffering people have experienced and will want to make a fuller statement in the Assembly on this matter when the interdepartmental group has made progress on its work," the official statement said, noting that Ministers expect that the taskforce will bring forward its recommendations to the Executive by the Assembly's summer recess.

The interdepartmental taskforce membership will be made up of representatives from the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister; Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety; Department of Education; Department of Justice; Department for Social Development; Department of Finance and Personnel; Department of the Environment; Department for Employment and Learning and the Department of Culture and Leisure.

Already, the Sinn Fein MLAs Martina Anderson and Sue Ramsey have welcomed the news on 'historical child abuse'.

Martina Anderson said: "The demand for an inquiry has been a longstanding one for victims and survivors of institutional child abuse.

"Despite the harrowing nature of their stories I have no doubt that they will welcome this announcement. I would call now for the relevant institutions to play a full, open and honest part in the inquiry process."

Ms Ramsey added: "I welcome this announcement by the Executive and am very conscious of the call that victims and survivors have been making for some considerable time now. Obviously this inquiry must be victim centred and led.

"We will continue to engage with victim's representatives and groups and ensure that their needs remain the focus."

See: TD Slams Vatican Representative

(BMcC/GK)

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