Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 30 July 2014

DebateNI home of Northern Ireland politics

Child abuse inquiry: Northern Ireland Executive failing victims of clerical abuse

Margaret McGuckin and Kate Walmsey arrive at the inquiry in Banbridge on Monday

On Monday an inquiry investigating child abuse in state run institutions got under way.

It seems certain that the inquiry will uncover many harrowing stories. It needs to be pointed out, however, that the inquiry will create a hierarchy of abuse victims.

While it will investigate cases where abuse took place within state run institutions, those who suffered abuse outside institutions and were the object of clerical abuse are excluded.

When the issue came before the Assembly TUV was lobbied by victims of clerical abuse, including by families of Brendan Smyth’s victims, and was  convinced by their arguments that clerical abuse should be included within the terms of reference of the Inquiry.

Jim Allister therefore sought to widen the scope of the inquiry to include clerical abuse but his amendments were blocked from even reaching the floor of the House.

In 2012, when TUV highlighted the issue, Junior Minister Jonathan Bell said "clerical abuse is no less important or emotive than institutional abuse". 

When victims of clerical abuse will get their inquiry, however, still remains to be seen. What is beyond dispute is that Stormont has displayed little interest in the issue with the understandable result that there is a degree of resentment among victims of clerical abuse. 

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