Northern Ireland: 'Landmark day' in search for justice for child abuse victims
Today is a landmark in the long search for justice for victims of institutional child abuse in Northern Ireland, Amnesty International said today, as the public hearings of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry get underway.
But the human rights organisation warned that not all abuse victims were covered by the inquiry and called for the Northern Ireland Executive to set up new probes into allegations of clerical child abuse and abuse suffered by residents of 'Magdalene Laundries'.
Amnesty International has campaigned alongside child abuse victims since 2010 to get the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry set up. Amnesty's Northern Ireland Programme Director, Patrick Corrigan, said today:
"Today is a landmark along the road to justice for victims of institutional child abuse in Northern Ireland. Finally, victims will be able to tell their stories of abuse to an Inquiry empowered to get to the truth. Where there is sufficient evidence, we expect the Inquiry to pass files to the police for criminal investigation with a view to prosecution of abusers and those who colluded or covered up for them.
"Today we also remember the many abuse victims in Northern Ireland who are not covered by this inquiry: clerical child abuse victims who were abused at a parish level, rather than in a children's home, and women who suffered abuse in Magdalene Laundry-type institutions. For them, this inquiry offers nothing.
"Six months ago we brought representatives of these victims to meet Ministers at the Northern Ireland Executive to plea for justice. Six months on they have still heard and received nothing but tea and sympathy.
"The Northern Ireland Executive has an obligation to ensure a thorough investigation of all abuse allegations within this jurisdiction. Victims deserve nothing less."