Historical Institutional Abuse Victims to Receive Official Apology
February 16, 2021
Victims of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland are to receive an official apology.
The issue was discussed at a meeting of Executive and church leaders.
First Minister Arlene Foster and Junior Minister Declan Kearney met with the Catholic Church's Archbishop Eamon Martin, Church of Ireland Archbishop John McDowell, and representatives from Barnardo’s and the Association of Leaders of Missionaries and Religious of Ireland (AMRI) to discuss the remaining recommendations from the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry.
The Inquiry, chaired by the late judge Sir Anthony Hart, called for compensation, a memorial to the victims and a formal apology.
A roundtable meeting will take place with the institutions involved in the running of children's homes in the coming weeks to discuss principles underpinning the financial contributions before individual discussions with each institution.
Other issues discussed at the meeting included progress on compensation and support services for victims and survivors and the views of victims towards an official apology.
"All agreed that acceptance of responsibility and recognition of the harm done were central to the way forward. Historical institutional abuse should never have happened. Trust was breached and significant trauma caused to innocent victims," an Executive Office spokesperson said.
"Those present committed to work together to address the apology, memorial, and contributions to the costs of redress in a way that will put fairness at its core and will meet the needs of victims and survivors.
"The Executive Office will also continue to engage with the Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse and with the institutions to ensure that a timely and appropriate joint official apology is made to victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse."
The state is covering the cost of payments to victims, which have already begun, but is attempting to recoup much of its outlay from those in charge of operating the children's homes.
Victims and survivors of abuse were paid ?5.7 million between May and December last year.
The scheme became operational at the end of March when a redress board was established as part of recommendations made in the HIA inquiry.
The HIA inquiry called for payments ranging from ?7,500 to ?100,000. Thousands of victims are believed to be eligible.
A “central estimate” of the cost of redress is up to ?400 million.