Leading article

Time was not on Clint Massey's side

In January, Kincora abuse survivor Clint Massey called for the implementation of the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry report, revealing that he was in poor health and had been given just months to live.

Sadly, he did not live even that long, passing away yesterday only a few weeks after making his moving appeal for help on behalf of those who were abused while in care.

There is no getting away from the fact that Mr Massey, like so many others subjected to horrific abuse, was failed by the state.

Placed in an institution where the house master was a prolific paedophile, Mr Massey was repeatedly raped and abused by William McGrath, a prominent loyalist who was subsequently jailed.

The story of a vulnerable and defenceless child being preyed upon by a depraved person in a position of authority is a familiar one.

Indeed, we have heard more grave cases emerge in recent days and weeks following the BBC Spotlight programme on the appalling behaviour of Fr Malachy Finegan, a man who misused his position of trust in the most despicable way imaginable in St Colman's College, Newry and Clonduff Parish in Hilltown before his death in 2002.

Attention then focused on the way the scandal was addressed by the Bishop of Dromore, Dr John McAreavey, who was appointed in 1999.

Bishop McAreavey, who officiated at Fr Finegan's Requiem Mass, faced sharp public criticism and last night announced that he was leaving his post.

He said "Following media reports which have disturbed and upset many people in the diocese and further afield, I have decided to resign with immediate effect."

It was a swift and direct response from the bishop in difficult circumstances, and he has indicated that he intends to release a more detailed statement in due course.

Unfortunately, even after vile sexual predators like Fr Finegan have died, survivors continue to suffer, their lives scarred and devastated by the terrible trauma they endured.

The HIA inquiry, which reported in January 2017, made a number of recommendations including compensation payments for those subjected to physical, emotional and sexual abuse, and should have been implemented long before now.

But the report was not just about financial redress.

Another crucial element was the recommendation that counselling services should be provided, as well as practical support in terms of education, housing and employment.

It is sobering to think that of over 500 people who gave evidence to the inquiry, more than 60 have passed away.

Civil service head David Sterling has ordered draft legislation to be prepared on the implementation of the HIA report but its scheduling is a concern.

The death of Clint Massey is a reminder that time is not on the side of some victims.

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