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Survivors of institutional abuse in 'dangerous despair'

Margaret McGuckin and Marty Adams of support group Savia with survivors of Church and state abuse. Picture by Hugh Russell.

A CAMPAIGNER for victims of State and Church child abuse has said many are in "dangerously, deep despair" over the political crisis which is delaying the implementation of recommendations made in the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) report, published earlier this year.

The HIA investigated physical, emotional and sexual abuse between 1922 and 1995 and found systemic wrongdoing at most of the 22 homes it considered.

Margaret McGuckin, of Savia (Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse) said some elderly victims now regretting taking part in the lengthy inquiry, feeling they "relived the trauma" of their childhood only to be let down by the current political impasse.

Recommendations for redress, made by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart, included financial compensation of up to £100,000 that would be paid partly by the Stormont Executive and partly by the Church or organisations responsible for running the institutions named in the report.

As only a meeting of the Executive would be able to implement HIA recomendations, and with speculation that talks to restore devolution could take months, Ms McGuckin said some of the older victims have "lost all hope".

"So many survivors are just shattered and in dangerously, deep despair over this mess," she said.

"Many of them, including some very elderly people who waited on the Hart Inquiry Findings, some for over 70 years, stated they now feel like they are being punished all over again.

"Punishment and disappointment is all they have ever been used to, but we promised them this time was different, that this government would be the one that would finally act in their best interest.

"We still hope that any renewed structure in Stormont will implement the Hart Findings, by setting up the HIA Redress Board immediately and not allow more abuse survivors and victims to pass on without any form of justice.

"But with there being so much doubt about the talks process and the possibility of direct rule where does that leave our victims?

"We don't have any answers for them and they don't have the luxury of time, they need resolution now, for them this is like being traumatised all over again.

"So many have said they now regret taking part in the inquiry because they unlocked all the secrets they had hidden away for so long only to be abandoned politically", she added.

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