Abuse survivors gather to protest at royal garden party venue
ABUSE survivors picketing a garden party hosted by Secretary of State Karen Bradley for the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall attempted to peacefully enter the National Trust venue.
They gathered outside Castle Coole on the outskirts of Enniskillen in Co Fermanagh with a banner urging redress for child victims of abuse in residential homes overseen by the state.
It follows bitter disappointment at further delays to compensation recommended more than two years ago following a public inquiry.
Retired judge Sir Anthony Hart recommended payments of up to £10,000 but the collapse of Stormont meant nothing happened.
Victims met Mrs Bradley at Stormont on Monday after she revealed extra questions have been asked of politicians before Westminster legislation can be drawn up.
They were also told the process could take up two years.
Shadow Secretary of State Stephen Pound MP broke off from the garden party yesterday to promise the protesters that he will be bringing the matter up in parliament next week to ensure the necessary legislation is enacted.
Kate Walmsley, who was subjected to abuse at a home run by the Sisters of Nazareth nuns in Derry, said she was annoyed with Ms Bradley because a signal was being given "to the world that it is okay to sexually abuse children because nobody does nothing about it".
"You won't get justice anyway so don't bother and I think it is very sad that she would do that," she said.
"The only thing I want compensation for is I want to buy a grave."
Six Stormont parties met on Monday to address key questions about the redress process and agreed to send a joint letter to Ms Bradley with answers.
However, shortly before the secretary of state met victims, she said she wanted the parties to answer a further 11 questions.
Margaret McGuckin, founding member of the Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse (Savia) support group, claimed Mrs Bradley had passed the buck for the delay to compensation and blamed the civil service.
"Many of our people are at death's door and so many have passed away. Thirty people have died in this past two-and-a-half years.
"We wished we had never started this, this is 11 years of campaigning, two and a half years after the Hart inquiry findings where we were vindicated.
"It has all fallen flat, nobody is getting anything, no support, we are all supporting each other and it is a disgrace on this government that they are not doing anything."