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Institutional abuse victims group rejects ‘downgraded apology’ plans

Stormont parties this week agreed a format for an apology to victims of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland on March 11.

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The Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry report (Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press/PA)

The Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry report (Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press/PA)

The Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry report (Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press/PA)

A victims group has said that it will not attend an apology to victims of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland next month.

The group, called Survivors Together, has rejected plans for the apology and described it as “insincere and futile”.

Stormont parties this week agreed a format for an apology to victims of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland on March 11.

Campaigners on behalf of victims and survivors had welcomed the development, which will involve a minister from each of the parties which previously made up the executive and will be discussed with victims and their representatives before it is approved.

Former first minister Paul Givan and then deputy first minister Michelle O’Neill announced last month the apology would be given in Parliament Buildings in Stormont on behalf of the powersharing executive on March 11.

However, since then the DUP has resigned the first minister role, in protest at the workings of the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol, leading to doubt over whether the apology would go ahead.

However, victims have now been informed that the apology will proceed on the date set.

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On Thursday, the Survivors Together group, which is made up of victims of abuse in predominantly state-run institutions, said that the plan was not good enough.

Cyril Glass, a spokesperson for the group, said he will not be attending the apology.

He said that the entire process had been “rushed”.

“Having spoken with our members, the overwhelming response is that it is viewed as a downgraded apology and not what they had anticipated or had been promised, therefore they rejected it as insincere and futile.

“Our members have instructed me that as their spokesman I should not attend this event on their behalf, nor should anyone else speak for them as they consider it to be disingenuous.”

He said that the group is awaiting the outcome of a review of the redress board.

The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Redress Board was set up in 2020 to receive and make determinations of awards of compensation to victims and survivors.

In December, a review of the process was announced after a number of victims expressed concern about their experiences.

“We believe there are substantial changes need to be made to the working mechanisms of the Redress Board which can re-victimise victims,” Mr Glass said.

“We feel it is a downgraded apology, not the promised State apology as we anticipated.”


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