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Northern Ireland: Amnesty International calls for inquiry into institutional child abuse

Amnesty International is calling on the UK government and the Northern Ireland Executive to uphold victims' rights by ensuring there is an effective inquiry into the extent of child abuse in State run or church operated institutions in Northern Ireland.

Amnesty is urging the relevant government authorities to comply with their international obligations to conduct a thorough investigation into allegations of physical, sexual and emotional abuse in Children's rights's homes and other institutions in Northern Ireland.

Amnesty's call follows the damning Ryan Report in the Republic of Ireland which uncovered decades of institutional abuse. Published in May 2009, it found that child abuse there was "endemic and widespread" and that the Department of Education, health boards and religious orders failed to protect Children's rights or to investigate complaints.

Patrick Corrigan, Northern Ireland programme director of Amnesty International, said:

“The Ryan Report exposed, once and for all, the regime of fear and the gross abuses of human rights to which Children's rights in many Church-run institutions in the Republic of Ireland were subjected. But, while Ryan stopped at the border, the abuse of Children's rights did not. We know this from the stream of Northern Irish victims and survivors now coming forward with credible stories of horrific abuse and neglect.”

Colm O'Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, speaking [on Saturday afternoon] at a conference in Newcastle in Northern Ireland, said:

“Individual cases of child abuse must be investigated and prosecuted through the criminal justice system. The individual victims of past abuse are entitled to proper recognition and full redress.

“It is also clear that in order to properly protect Children's rights today, we must be prepared to learn the lessons of past failures. Inquiries into child abuse in the Republic of Ireland and Wales have led to significant advances in child protection and Children's rights's rights, and the Scottish Government is currently developing plans to address institutional child abuse there.

“There is a clear international obligation to investigate serious violations of human rights. The State authorities in Northern Ireland have such a responsibility in respect of the child victims of institutional abuse and Amnesty International is calling for an investigation which is independent, impartial and effective in delivering justice for the victims.”


Colm O’Gorman will speak on the issue at a fringe meeting of the SDLP annual conference at the Slieve Donard Hotel, Newcastle, Co. Down on Saturday 6 February at 1pm. Also speaking will be Margaret McGuckin and Jon McCourt, victims of institutional child abuse in Northern Ireland.


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