Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Abuse victims pressure Assembly to hold inquiry

Abuse victims pressure Assembly to hold inquiry

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Abuse victims in Northern Ireland have vowed they will continue to put pressure on the Assembly to hold an inquiry into the torment suffered by thousands at Catholic and state-run institutions as another damning report into horrific child abuse in the Republic is published.

The Irish Justice Minister is to release the long-awaited report into clerical abuse within the Dublin Diocese, prompting abuse victims in Northern Ireland to highlight their campaign again.

Last month victims campaigners marched to Stormont and handed over a petition of 6,000 signatures calling for the Executive to conduct a full assessment into the extent of physical and emotional child abuse within religious institutions in the province.

According to the campaigners, the move has received cross-party support but the Assembly has failed to give any public commitment to such an investigation.

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey is compiling a report to gauge whether an inquiry, such as the one in the Republic, would be feasible.

A Department of Health spokesman said the minister was still waiting for responses from a number of departments.

“When the responses are completed the minister will be able to bring forward firm proposals to the Executive for their approval,” he added.

The Executive will then decide if an inquiry will be carried out.

Victims campaigners Margaret McGuckin, who suffered eight years of physical abuse at Nazareth House girls' home in south Belfast, and John McCourt, who spent 10 years in an institution in Londonderry, believe victims here deserve such an inquiry.

Miss McGuckin said: “If an inquiry is held up here it will go a long way for those people who do still feel a bit of despair.”

Mr McCourt said: “I want public acknowledgement from all the orders, not just the Catholic Church. They failed miserably in their duty of care and they have to be held to account.”

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