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Victims of historical abuse seek redress for ordeal at Stormont

Margaret McGuckin (SAVIA) and other survivors and victims of sexual abuse hand in a report at Stormont calling for compensation. Picture by Presseye
Margaret McGuckin (SAVIA) and other survivors and victims of sexual abuse hand in a report at Stormont calling for compensation. Picture by Presseye

VICTIMS of historic child sexual abuse gathered at Stormont on Monday to hand in a report calling for compensation for the trauma they suffered.

What Survivors Want from Redress, a study carried out by Ulster University professor Patricia Lundy, detailed the experiences of numerous victims and outlined what they believe would help them heal and move on from the abuse.

Many said they felt that a public apology from both religious and state institutions was vital. But the report also set out recommendations for out-of-court payments as an alternative to civil court proceedings in order to speed up the process.

Many of the victims are now elderly and the scheme would take into account the age and vulnerability of the the victims.

Many of the victims told how they suffered long term mental health and relationship problems as a result of their childhood experiences in religious and state-run institutions.

Margaret McGuckin, of Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse (SAVIA), said: "Abuse victims have waited their whole lives for an acknowledgement from the state for letting us down so badly when we were vulnerable kids.

"Part of that acknowledgement must be redress, to try to make up for what we suffered and what we lost.

"One of our victims is 85-years-old, they've been through enough and waited long enough.

"They are fed up being shoved from pillar to post. The model adopted in the south was to pay people interim compensation through a scheme that cut out costly civil proceedings.

"The politicians, and in particular the two main parties, can sort this out and wouldn't it be a great gesture for this new political administration to bring hope where there has in the past been so much hopelessness", she added.

Sinn Féin MLA Jennifer McCann said while "the primary focus is of course redressing the hurt suffered by the victims of abuse, compensation would be an assistance and a very clear acknowledgement of what many people have had to endure who were under the care of state institutions".

"The heart-felt testimonies heard in Stormont at this event are extremely moving," she said.

"I would like to commend the courage of those who spoke and continue to campaign for justice on this vitally important issue.

"Sinn Féin has called for the issue of compensation for those who have suffered institutional abuse to be included in the Programme for Government negotiations", she added.

SDLP MLA Alex Attwood said the parties must work together to give comfort and justice to the victims and survivors.

“The courage of victims and survivors of sexual abuse in their campaign for truth, acknowledgment and redress has been immense and unimpeachable,” he said.