Belfast Telegraph

Time for action to help Northern Ireland abuse victims

Billy McConville
Billy McConville

Editor's viewpoint

The inquiry set up to investigate the abuse of children in Northern Ireland's state and church-run institutions was comprehensive and detailed in its recommendations. No one could deny, even on a cursory reading of the report, that it presented a humane and just response to the suffering that children had suffered at the hands of evil predators.

Yet it is a report which is gathering dust at Stormont. The victims, as former First Minister Peter Robinson said, were again being let down by political stalemate.

His comments came as the funeral of one of the abused, Billy McConville, took place.

He, like a reported 60 other victims, have gone to their graves never getting the recompense that his traumatic experiences demanded and which were recognised by the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry.

Like the victims of the Troubles, the abused children - some of whom were shipped out to Australia where they were violated - are growing old, hoping that they will one day get the full justice they demand and deserve.

That such abuse happened in the first place is a permanent stain on the reputation of the country, the institutions where it took place, and on those who ignored the plight of the children for far too long.

But to compound that neglect with the current inaction is also shameful. The mechanism and the detail for giving redress to the injured parties are clearly set out.

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Implementation should not be a major problem.

While some may baulk at the recommendation in the report that compensation should be publicly funded, the report makes a compelling case for it to be handled that way. Some institutions may be closed and others may not have the wherewithal to pay the recommended levels of compensation, meaning that some victims would not get redress.

The spouses and children of abuse victims would be eligible to receive 75% of the money that would have gone to the deceased had he or she lived. This is another fair proposal which takes into account the impact on families as well as those abused.

But there is no indication that any of the recommendations will be implemented as long as the stalemate over devolution continues.

Could an across-the-board interim payment be made to victims or relatives by the Secretary of State until a functioning Executive is restored?

Belfast Telegraph


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