Belfast Telegraph

Child abuse survivors march at Stormont calling for justice

Institutional child abuse victims have marched at Stormont to demand justice from warring politicians who have failed to deliver a promised apology and financial redress.

The group handed in letters to party leaders at Stormont Castle asking for the recommendations of a four-year inquiry into state and church abuse to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

A number of party representatives, including Sinn Fein's Michelle O'Neill, UUP leader Robin Swann and the Alliance Party's Chris Lyttle took time out from political talks to personally accept the letters from the group.

Negotiations aimed at restoring Northern Ireland's collapsed government continued on Monday at Stormont.

The Stormont impasse has meant that the findings and recommendations of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry have still not been presented to the Northern Ireland assembly.

The report, which was published just days before Stormont collapsed in January, promised victims state-backed compensation payments of up to £100,000, an apology, counselling and a memorial. Victims and government bodies were advised in November 2015 that the report would be recommending financial redress.

However, the failure of the region's two largest parties - the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Fein - to form a powersharing government has meant the inquiry's recommendations have not been implemented.

"Our hopes have been built up so many times and we feel so let down. We were vindicated by the inquiry and then the government collapsed," Margaret McGuckin, of the campaign group Survivors & Victims of Institutional Abuse (SAVIA) said.

She added: "We want to say to the politicians 'let us have some form of a life'. We don't know if we have got tomorrow. Many of us are mentally and emotionally damaged.

"We are pleading with our government to get together and show they care. Let justice be done. Set up this redress scheme."

Jon McCourt, who suffered abuse while at St Joseph's Children's Home in Londonderry, said he wanted to ensure the issue of redress for victims is top of the agenda in the political talks.

"We now have frustration and a feeling from victims and survivors that they are being left behind. We want the leaders of the political parties to take on board our concerns," he added.

Patrick Corrigan, director of Amnesty International in Northern Ireland, said: "Victims of institutional child abuse have had to wait all their lives for justice. Now they are being asked to wait even longer because there is no government in place to act on the recommendations.

"We are calling for this issue to be prioritised and be part of the agenda of the talks and for delivery to follow when devolution returns."

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