Northern Ireland news

Bishop of Derry appeals to politicians to 'prioritise' full implementation of HIA Inquiry

A year has passed since Sir Anthony Hart, who chaired the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry, published his report. Picture by Pacemaker

THE Bishop of Derry has called on politicians to "prioritise" the full implementation of a major inquiry into child abuse in Northern Ireland, a year after its publication.

Bishop Donal McKeown last night said the "needs of the suffering are more important than anything else" as he urged political leaders to take action.

His comments were echoed by the Diocese of Down and Connor, who called the political impasse "deeply regrettable".

It is a year since retired judge Sir Anthony Hart, who chaired the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry, published his findings and gave his report to Stormont.

The findings called for a public apology and compensation for more than 500 victims of state abuse - but the Stormont executive collapsed just days after the report was released.

Bishop McKeown last night made a plea to politicians to act on the recommendations.

"A year has passed since Judge Anthony Hart published his report on historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland," he said.

"That report did two things. It publicly acknowledged the reality that many children had suffered in State, Church and other institutions over decades.

"Secondly, it recommended that the NI Executive institute a redress scheme.

"The absence of a devolved administration has meant that high hopes of redress have been dashed for a full year. In that time, more former residents of homes have died and others have continued to suffer in different ways.

"Scars inflicted in childhood affect people throughout their lives. Families, spouses and children can also suffer."

Bishop McKeown appealed to political leaders to prioritise the full implementation of the Hart recommendations in upcoming talks.

"The needs of the suffering are more important than anything else," he said.

A spokesman for the Diocese of Down and Connor said the legacy of abuse had been "compounded by the lack of a solution and compromise at the level of politics".

"The onward recovery of victims, survivors and their families is only to be found with the timely review, consultation and proper implementation of the recommendations of the HIAI Report," he said.

It comes as a clerical abuse survivor said it was "appalling beyond words" that politicians had not done more to provide justice for those affected.

Fr Patrick McCafferty, who officiated at the funerals of two clerical abuse survivors Tucker McConville and Hugh Hunter, said the men had "died without seeing justice".

"Those with ultimate responsibility for overseeing due justice for all the survivors of those institutions indicted in the HIA are our politicians, our MLAs," he said.

"It is appalling beyond words that the plight of the many survivors in our community does not move them to swift action towards redress.

"The greater good of our community, a vitally important part of which are those who were betrayed in childhood, demands that the blame games be halted once and for all.

"It is absolutely horrifying that those who have already suffered so much, for so long, continue to be subjected to callous and cruel treatment in our society."

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