Rev Ivan Foster’s letter has taken away the tranquillity of some of us victims of abuse

News Letter [Belfast, Northern Ireland]

January 25, 2022

A letter to the editor from Margaret McGuckin and other members of SAVIA (Survivors and Victims of Insitutional Abuse):

We, are the main SAVIA (Survivors and Victims of Insitutional Abuse) lobby group who represent a large cross-section of both Catholic and Protestant HIA (Historical Institutional Abuse) victims and survivors in Northern Ireland, the UK and abroad.

We are horrified at the contents of Ivan Foster’s letter to the editor in the News Letter on January 24 (‘Protestants should not say sorry for abuse in Catholic establishments,’ see link below).

We have been campaigning, Protestants and Catholics together, for justice for nigh-on 15 years and just recently have been given our long-awaited apology date and timeline.

We have felt vindicated, totally, and have decided to end our long and arduous campaign. This weekend we finally rested, happy and content that our fight for justice was over.

This was until we read the vitriolic and biased comments coming from a man of the church.

His comments have taken away some of the peace of tranquillity we had finally found after all these years.

Does Rev Foster not realise that the First and Deputy First Ministers Paul Givan and Michelle O’Neill will be acting as representatives only, and apologising on behalf of the state?

The state, that is, which assigned vulnerable children to both Protestant and Catholic religious-run institutions at Whiteabbey, Rathgael, Kincora, Palmerston House, as well as to state-run care homes.

Now, only because of our long campaign and the Hart Report findings, do we see that child abuse was taking place across the board, in the majority of institutions. In Sir Anthony Hart’s words abuse was ‘systemic, unreported and covered up by all’.

Hence the apology from the First and Deputy First Ministers on behalf of the state, alongside an apology from the Church of Ireland, the religious orders, Barnardos, Kincora, Palmerston etc.

We do hope Mr Foster will retract his statement. Perhaps he will reflect on the bonds of friendship our members have formed between ourselves, which is why this letter has been agreed between us.

Margaret McGuckin, Denise Burke, Ron Graham, Alan Phillips, On behalf of our cross-community SAVIA lobby group.

Rev Ivan Foster: Protestants should not say sorry for abuse in Catholic establishments