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Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry: We have finally been vindicated, says public face of the survivors

By Claire McNeilly

Campaigners and victims of historic child abuse in Northern Ireland have welcomed the 'long-overdue' findings of systemic failure outlined in the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry report.

Margaret McGuckin, who has been the public face of the campaign for survivors of historical institutional child sex abuse, said it has taken a lifetime for victims to get justice.

"We have been vindicated by this inquiry and I am delighted - this is our day," she said.

"It has taken a lot of victims their whole lives to get justice, but that is what we got today.

"It will never erase the terrible memories or diminish the sadness that has become an integral part of many of us because nothing can undo the damage. There are still too many secrets being carried.

"When we spoke out about the abuse no one would believe us at the time because we were children and it was continually covered up but at least now the world finally knows the truth.

"Sir Anthony Hart repeatedly spoke of systemic failings and I am happy with that; for once we haven't been let down.

"All that remains is for the Executive to take the recommendations forward and we will be at Stormont on Monday to make sure they commit to this process."

Jon McCourt, from the North West Survivors group in Londonderry, said Sir Anthony Hart had listened and that political representatives now had to listen.

"We want the rest of the delivery of what the HIA report entails," he said.

"Don't let us down now."

Meanwhile, high-profile former army officer Colin Wallace, who declined to assist the inquiry, has criticised its findings.

Colin Wallace, who served in Northern Ireland between 1971 and 1974, had been a leading voice in claims about an alleged cover-up by intelligence services of sex abuse at the former Kincora Boys' Home - which the HIA rejected.

He said: "I feel the victims have been let down yet again, as they were by previous inquiries."

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