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Abuse inquiry must consider the victims' views

I NOTE that the Executive's Taskforce on Historical Institutional Abuse is currently deciding on the nature and extent of the proposed public inquiry.

I act on behalf of many victims of institutional abuse and these victims have strong views on the way the inquiry should be established. They believe the taskforce should adopt a sufficiently wide definition of the term 'institution'. This should include schools, churches/ religious bodies, orphanages, hospitals and children's homes as, otherwise, many victims may be excluded from the inquiry process.

The inquiry should have a mandate to investigate all major forms of abuse, including physical, sexual, emotional abuse and neglect.

The Ryan commission in the Republic was empowered to consider allegations of abuse dating back to at least 1936 and it is important for the inquiry in Northern Ireland to be able to likewise.

Finally, my clients are of the strong view that the taskforce should expedite the setting up of the inquiry and ensure that the inquiry is required to report within a reasonable timeframe. Many victims are now very elderly, or have since died. Therefore, the longer the inquiry takes to be established, the less evidence will be available to it and the fewer victims will be able to hear its final conclusions.

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