Collapsed executive leaving seriously ill abuse survivors in limbo says support group

Billy McConville (50) son of IRA murder victim Jean McConville, died in July after a battle with cancer.

A SUPPORT group for survivors of institutional child abuse have said four of their members have died in the last two months, with several more having been given just months to live.

Left in limbo after the collapse of the Stormont executive, victims have been told that the redress, recommended by Sir Anthony Hart, which includes compensation and an apology, cannot be implemented until the executive is up and running again.

With the restoration of devolution looking unlikely in the near future campaigners have warned that many survivors may never live to see the recommendations of the Historic Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry implemented.

In July of this year Billy McConville, son of Disappeared victim Jean McConville, urged politicians to come together and help victims of abuse before it was too late.

The 50-year-old had been placed in care following the IRA abduction of his mother in 1972.

He was subjected to physical and sexual abuse whilst in the care of the Catholic Church. He died less than three weeks after he spoke to the Irish News.

Since then three further, former residents of children's homes, have died all aged in their 50s or early 60s.

Hugh Hunter, who had been a child resident of Nazareth Lodge died at the start of August at the age of 56.

Campaigner John Leathem, who was one of the first victims to speak out about church child abuse, died earlier this month at his home on the 19th floor of Divis Tower in west Belfast following a lengthy battle with cancer.

The 59-year-old, who spent much of his childhood in Catholic Church run care homes, gave evidence to the HIA inquiry about his time in Nazareth Lodge where he was subjected to horrific abuse.

Joan Moore, who had been a resident of Nazareth House in Derry died in Wexford aged 60, just over three weeks ago.

Many more are seriously ill, including Jimmy Lappin, who is suffering complications of HIV and is currently living in Ardglass.

Earlier this week DUP, MP Jeffrey Donaldson contacted members of Savia support group to say Arlene Foster had met the Secretary of State James Brokenshire to try and move their case on.

In a letter to Savia Mr Donaldson said; "As a result of the representations made by the DUP, the Secretary of State has undertaken to speak with the Head of the Civil Service David Sterling to ensure that officials are taking forward the work associated with the Inquiry Report.

"In the absence of a functioning executive at Stormont, we will look to the Secretary of State to find a way to take forward the implementation of the inquiry report," Mr Donaldson added.

Margaret McGuckin of Savia said they welcomed the intervention by the DUP but also said it must be "more than just words".

"When Billy (McConville) spoke out to warn that people were dying without any redress or comfort he meant every word of it.

"Billy died speaking out to help others, since then three others have died and people like Jimmy Lappin are seriously ill.

"We're not being fobbed off any more with promises of redress once there is an executive, we need help now before more of our people die," she added

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