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Campaigning priest calls on Secretary of State to intervene as time runs out for abuse victims

Billy McConville (50) son of IRA murder victim Jean McConville, who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer, has called for urgent help for victims of Church and State child abuse. Picture by Hugh Russell.

A PRIEST who led the funeral of murdered widow Jean McConville, has called on the Secretary of State to intervene and implement a redress scheme for victims of institutional abuse, before her terminally ill son loses his battle against cancer.

Billy McConville, this week called on politicians to get back to work and implement the recommendations of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, which concluded in January.

Sir Anthony Hart, who chaired the inquiry, recommended an official apology and compensation of up to £100,000 for victims.

However, the collapse of the devolved institutions means victims have been left in limbo.

Mr McConville (50) who has just weeks to live, gave evidence to the inquiry about abuse suffered during his time in numerous Catholic Church run children's homes after he was taken into care following the abduction and murder of his mother, a widow with 10 children, in December 1972.

"Victims have been let down again and again. Finally I thought we had something to live for and look forward to but now all I have to look forward to is a coffin", he told the Irish News.

With the chance of a political settlement before the autumn now unlikely, Fr Paddy McCafferty, who has campaigned on behalf of child victims of Church sex abuse, said James Brokenshire must now do all in his power to "right this terrible wrong".

Fr McCaffrey, who was himself abused during his time as a trainee priest, has been involved with the families of the Disappeared for around 18 years.

"I first met the McConville family in around 2003 and they told me their heartbreaking story", he said.

"We don't know how long Billy has, it's probably too late for him, but his situation underlies how urgent a situation this is for people who have been left in pain and desperate suffering without any alleviation of that.

"Justice needs to be seen and heard and, while I'm no expert, the Secretary of State needs to exercise whatever power he has urgently to end this awful chapter in their lives, end this awful chapter in the history of Ireland.

"Billy has been very brave, open and frank about his situation, he knows the score, but if he knew this was going to be addressed it might give him some peace to leave this world,", he said.

"Billy and his brothers and sisters should have been shown love and compassion, poor traumatised children, their world upended and instead they were subjected to brutality and abuse.

"I know in my heart where Billy is going he will fully comforted for his sacrifice.

"If anyone deserves the fullness of what to come it is him it is Billy McConville, and likewise all like him.

"But before he goes to that next place he deserves to know that this has been addressed once and for all", Fr McCaffrey added.

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