Belfast Telegraph

Peter Robinson calls for Brokenshire to act over abuse victims' report

Peter Robinson has called on Secretary of State James Brokenshire to act on the recommendations made by the Historical Abuse Inquiry.

The former first minister said the issue had been "swept under the carpet for too long" and the delay in implementing the recommendations of the wide-ranging report by Sir Anthony Hart had been "unfair and unnecessarily deferred" by the collapse of the Stormont institutions.

That report found widespread evidence of abuse at children's homes run by the state, churches and charity organisations. It recommended compensation of up to £100,000 for victims.

The DUP leader wrote, in the Irish News, about how he and the late Martin McGuinness had been "deeply affected" by the victims' experiences.

Mr Robinson said he would have thought an announcement would have been made "reflecting the gravity of the situation and that immediate apologies and compensation would follow".

"While serving in the First Minister’s Office I met on several occasions with those who were sexually and otherwise abused while they were resident in institutions in Northern Ireland that were charged with their care and safety when they were vulnerable children," he wrote.

"Both Martin and I were deeply affected by their stories and distressed by the impact of these experiences on the remainder of their lives."

The victims of institutional abuse have waited an inordinately long and unacceptable time for the truth to be revealed, recognised and a measure of reparation to be made.

 

He said those victims wanted the opportunity to tell their stories and needed an apology and while compensation was not on their agenda, he and Martin recognised there had to be a financial aspect "to any just outcome of this appalling and vile chapter".

He said there needed to be an urgency in getting Sir Anthony's recommendations implemented.

"It had also been my view that institutions, other than the State, who had been culpable, would also have stepped up to the plate and accepted their responsibility in both verbal and financial terms," added Mr Robinson.

"That was my hope but it has not been the outcome."

Urging Secretary of State James Brokenshire to act he said: "I do not believe this is an issue of much contention among the local parties and certainly not one that should cause anyone to complain if the Secretary of State were to action the findings immediately.

"I urge the Secretary of State to consult with the parties about this issue and assess whether, at least on this outstanding matter, there is sufficient consensus to proceed in all or part with the implementation of the HIA Report. Justice and humanity demands action now.

"Justice and humanity demands action now," he added.

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