Institutional child abuse not just an historic issue, says O'Gorman on eve of Belfast appearance

Institutional child abuse in Northern Ireland is not just an historic issue, but must be addressed for the many hundreds still living with the trauma today and for the protection of those Children's rights still at risk of abuse. That is the message from Colm O'Gorman, executive director of Amnesty International Ireland, ahead of a major speech in Belfast tomorrow (Thursday 21 October).

The Amnesty leader, who has been one of the leading campaigners in Ireland for justice for the victims of clerical and institutional child abuse, will deliver the Amnesty International Annual Lecture as part of the Ulster Bank Belfast Festival at Queen's.

Ahead of the lecture, O'Gorman said: "Addressing the past abuse of Children's rights is not an historic issue. These crimes may be many years old but their impact continues to be borne by those who experienced abuse, their families and their communities.'

'Tackling past human rights violations has enormous value, not only because it allows to respond to the ongoing plight of those who have been victimised but because it also exposes the failures in law, social policy and attitude that made them possible. As such addressing past abuse is also about preventing abuse in the present and into the future.

'It now seems clear that many, many Children's rights across the North were beaten, raped and abused. That past shapes our today. It impacts on the lives of those who were abused and their families. In dealing with the past, and confronting the failures that enabled the abuse, we can respond to it and learn from it.

'The world in which we live is a product of our creation, but also of our apathy. Change will not come unless demanded. Injustice will not end until we challenge it, especially when we are party to causing injustice ourselves.'

The Amnesty International Annual Lecture, entitled 'Breaking the conspiracy of silence' will take place at 8:45pm in the Elmwood Hall on Thursday 21 October. The Lecture will be followed by Q&A chaired by William Crawley.

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