Friday, March 26, 2010

Assembly calls for abuse inquiry

Assembly calls for abuse inquiry
The Stormont Health Committee has agreed the only way forward in pursuing the full extent of child sex abuse in NI is a public inquiry.

It was responding to the Health Minister's options paper, issued last week, which discussed various ways of examining crimes against children.

Health committee chair, Jim Wells, said nothing less than a public inquiry would do.

He said it must not mirror inquiries "which took years to complete".

Stormont sources have said it is looking increasingly likely that the Executive will order an inquiry into institutional child abuse in Northern Ireland.

Ministers discussed the Northern Ireland Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey's options paper at a meeting on Thursday afternoon.

Sources said there was a strong feeling among ministers that those who perpetrated abuse should be subject to the full rigours of the law, that children currently in care should not have to go through what generations did in the past and that victims of abuse deserve an apology.

Last week, a leading Catholic bishop said he believed more cases of clerical sex abuse would emerge.

The auxiliary Bishop of Down and Connor Donal McKeown made his comments as Pope Benedict was due to sign his letter on how to address the issue on the island of Ireland.

Bishop McKeown said the culture in the "1980s and early 1990s was very different from what it is now".

He said he was "sure" people had made "well-intentioned decisions" which later proved "disastrously wrong".

"I think whatever the truth is it has got to come out and the sooner it comes out the better," he said.

Mr McGimpsey agreed to prepare the options paper after the Assembly passed a motion expressing concern at the findings of the Ryan Commission into child abuse in the Irish Republic.

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