Belfast Telegraph

Institutional abuse 'to be exposed'

Institutional child abuse committed in Northern Ireland will not be swept under the carpet, the First Minister has vowed.

As campaigners continue to call for an independent inquiry into historic crimes north of the border, Peter Robinson told the Assembly that the Executive was committed to tackling the "difficult and sensitive" matter.

Ministers are still considering ways to deal with past abuse but it is understood they favour a probe similar to those that have unearthed a shocking litany of crime in the Republic.

Mr Robinson said he and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness had set up a working group to examine the issue which involved departments with responsibility for various related issues - health, justice and education.

Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness met with a group of abuse survivors in the summer.

"Whilst mindful of the legal constraints that need to be identified and given the age of some of the victims and the time they have carried this suffering, we are determined to move on this matter as quickly as possible," he said.

SDLP Assembly member Alban Maginness had urged Mr Robinson to ensure a decision was taken as soon as possible.

"I can give an absolute undertaking," he said. "I think both the Deputy First Minister and I found it a very difficult meeting, hearing the experiences of the people that we met.

"We were in no doubt that after that we need to take action and that we couldn't hang around in doing so."

The DUP leader said that officials from his department were working with the survivors' group, and another that had contacted the department, to identify their needs in the short term.

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