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Sex abuse victims to meet First Ministers

By Deborah McAleese

The First and Deputy First Ministers have agreed to meet with victims of clerical child abuse in Northern Ireland to discuss the possibility of ordering an official inquiry into the scandal.

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness wrote a letter to a group of victims — who have been campaigning for an inquiry similar to the Ryan Report that uncovered a litany of historic crimes in the Republic — and told them that safeguarding children was a key priority for the Executive.

The policy responsibility for this area falls to the Justice, Health and Education departments but the First and Deputy First Ministers have said they are happy to meet with and listen to the views of the delegation.

A date for the meeting has not yet been set however, and Margaret McGuckin, who suffered years of physical and emotional abuse while attending Nazareth House Convent in Belfast, has insisted that it must be held “sooner rather than later”.

She added: “This is a big step forward but we want to keep up the momentum as this has to happen soon. They can’t keep us hanging around for months on end. We have lost our trust because we were told three months ago that proposals on how to address the abuse were forwarded to OFMDFM.

“We will plead with them to move forward with this as soon as possible. We just want recognition and redress for what was going on here. We need to see action, not just words.”

A number of victims are travelling from across the UK to Belfast tomorrow to deliver a letter to OFMDFM demanding action.

The delegation will also be meeting with a representative from the Catholic Church tomorrow morning.

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