Belfast Telegraph

Ministers to decide on 'full' abuse inquiry

By Noel McAdam

Stormont ministers meet today to decide on the powers for a full-blown inquiry into institutionalised abuse of children in Catholic-run children’s homes.

Ahead of this afternoon’s single-issue special session, Junior ministers Jonathan Bell and Martina Anderson are due to meet victims’ and survivors’ groups to spell out the plans.

Amnesty International last night warned the Executive not to “betray” the victims of institutional abuse by establishing an inquiry without adequate powers to investigate allegations of systemic abuse at homes across the province over decades.

The organisation argued some victims fear that their demands for a statutory inquiry, with adequate powers of investigation, are about to be ignored in favour of a less rigorous approach.

In a letter to ministers, Amnesty’s NI programme director Patrick Corrigan said: “In order to investigate some of the worst crimes imaginable against children, Northern Ireland needs an inquiry which has the authority to obtain all the information it needs.”

Referring to the letter, Mr Corrigan added: “We urge the Executive to deliver the sort of statutory inquiry which victims have asked for.”

But First Minister Peter Robinson warned that new legislation may have to be introduced for such an inquiry. He added: “It is important that the statutory element does not increase the pain that victims have already gone through.”

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