Northern Ireland

Memorial for victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse considered

A permanent memorial, as well as compensation and an apology were recommended following an inquiry.

Kate Walmsley, left, and Margaret McGuckin, of the Savia lobby group, at Stormont following the official public apology
Historical institutional abuse apology Kate Walmsley, left, and Margaret McGuckin, of the Savia lobby group, at Stormont following the official public apology (Brian Lawless/PA)

Plans on how to memorialise victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland are being considered, First Minister Michelle O’Neill has said.

A permanent memorial, as well as compensation and an official apology, was among the recommendations of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI), which revealed sexual, physical and emotional abuse at the homes from 1922 to 1995.

A public apology was delivered by Stormont ministers in March 2022 and a compensation scheme has been opened.

Speaking while appearing at the Executive Committee on Wednesday, Ms O’Neill said their attention is on a permanent physical memorial.



Stormont First Minister Michelle O’Neill (left) and deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly appearing before the Executive Office committee at Stormont
Executive Office committee Stormont First Minister Michelle O’Neill (left) and deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly appearing before the Executive Office committee at Stormont (Executive Office/PA)

She told the committee that they want to work to ensure they agree “the right kind of physical memorial” in the Stormont grounds.

“We’re developing a phased approach to memorialisation, which I think is something that was asked for,” she told MLAs.

It emerged last month that some victims and survivors had reservations around a proposal to locate a memorial bench in Parliament Buildings in memory of those who suffered abuse at state, church or charity-run homes in Northern Ireland in the past.

Committee chairwoman Paula Bradshaw (Alliance) put to Ms O’Neill that there is not universal support for a bench in the rotunda at Parliament Buildings.

The First Minister responded: “We will be very sensitive to what everyone is asking for.”

She also said they were looking at the apology and how it has been recorded in response to some concerns raised.

Meanwhile deputy First Minister Emma Little-Pengelly urged anyone who was severely injured in the Troubles to make an application for a redress scheme.

She said applications to the Troubles Permanent Disablement Payment Scheme can take some time due to the information required, and said an external review is planned to look at how they can improve those time frames.

Ms Little-Pengelly said there have been just over 730 successful applications so far, and a recent leaflet drop to raise awareness.

“And if I can take this opportunity to encourage those who are severely injured to come forward and put in their application form as soon as possible,” she said.