Northern Ireland news

Abuse victims to hold protest at Belfast City Hall ahead of papal visit

Victims' campaigners say Pope Francis should take the opportunity to apologise during his visit to Ireland this weekend

VICTIMS and survivors of clerical and institutional abuse in Northern Ireland are to hold a protest at Belfast City Hall tomorrow calling for an apology from the Vatican.

Human rights solicitor Claire McKeegan, who represents abuse victims, said it was "hugely disappointing" there has been no time set aside for a meeting with survivors and victims of historical abuse from the north during this week's Papal visit for the World Meeting of Families.

"So many families have been shattered by abuse and the lifelong effects. This event could have provided a long overdue opportunity for some healing to occur," she said.

Margaret McGuckin of campaign group Survivors and Victims of Historical Abuse (SAVIA) also said it would be a missed opportunity if Pope Francis did not use his visit to Ireland to issue an apology.

"Acknowledgement of hurt is of course a step forward but our members want to hear an apology, not just for the abuse, but for the cover ups and the years when they were cast aside and not believed," she said.

"It is unfortunate that the Pope wont be meeting victims from north of the border.

"Decades of hurt and pain will not disappear overnight but if he were to apologise on behalf of the Church, well that would go a long way to start the process of healing."

Members of Savia will be joined by other survivors and victims at the City Hall at noon tomorrow.

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