Belfast Telegraph

Historic child abuse inquiry will be judged on 'truth it delivers'

Northern Ireland's public inquiry into child abuse at residential homes run by churches and the state will be judged on the extent to which it delivers truth and justice, campaigners said.

The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry is due to publish its report on Friday.

Evidence from hundreds of witnesses during 223 days of hearings outlined claims of brutality and sex abuse dating back to the 1920s at the homes. Some of those allegations have been challenged by the religious orders involved.

Retired judge Sir Anthony Hart chaired an independent panel which investigated, helped by a team of lawyers and researchers.

Sir Anthony has already indicated that compensating victims will be among his recommendations.

Stormont ministers will have to decide on what happens next amid a crisis engulfing powersharing.

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland director of Amnesty International, said: "This child abuse inquiry will be judged on the extent to which it delivers truth and justice for victims."

The public inquiry was ordered by Stormont's ministerial Executive following pressure from alleged victims and similar probes in the Republic of Ireland and elsewhere.

It was created in 2013 to investigate child abuse in residential institutions in Northern Ireland over a 73-year period, up to 1995.

Mr Corrigan added: "Having sat through some of the inquiry's hearings, I will be shocked if it finds anything less than catastrophic and systemic failure by the state, and by the religious bodies and others who ran homes, in upholding their duty of care to the children for whom they were acting in loco parentis.

"Not only will victims deserve full and wholehearted apologies from government and from the Church authorities and others who were responsible for running homes where children were abused, but also reparation, including financial compensation, to which they have a right."

The inquiry's terms of reference do not permit it to establish individual culpability for abuse perpetrated against children.

Mr Corrigan added: "Victims will rightly expect that any evidence uncovered by the inquiry which points to potential criminal wrongdoing will be passed to the police for investigation, with a view to possible prosecution."

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