“The largest Catholic diocese in Northern Ireland has described it as “deeply regrettable” that stalemate at Stormont has prevented implementation of recommendations by the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI).
Following an investigation into the sexual, physical and emotional abuse, neglect and unacceptable practices imposed on children in 22 Catholic, Protestant and state run homes and institutions in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995, a 2,300-page 12-volume report was published a year ago this month.
It recommended that a public apology be made to those who had been in the homes and institutions as children and that they be paid compensation.
In a statement Down and Connor diocese said it “unequivocally accepts” the HIAI recommendations in respect of those care institutions that were under its sole and/or joint management but that, a year on from the report’s publication, it was “deeply regrettable” these “haven’t been implemented due to the vacuum created by the current political impasse in Northern Ireland.”
It said “the legacy of abuse is compounded by the lack of a solution and compromise at the level of politics” and that “sadly, over the past year, some former residents of these homes have died and others have continued to suffer as they await support.”
In a separate statement the parish priest of Ballymurphy in Belfast, Fr Patrick McCafferty, himself a clerical child abuse victim, recalled how last summer he had “officiated at the funerals of Billy McConville, son of Jean McConville, and Hugh Hunter – two of the many survivors of those institutions held to account” in the HIAI report.
“Billy and Hugh’s lives – and the lives of so many other innocent children – were profoundly affected, in an adverse way, by experiences of sexual, physical and emotional abuse, in Church- run and State-run institutions, that were entrusted with the care of very vulnerable and, in many cases, already traumatised children. Billy and Hugh died without seeing justice on this earth,” he said.
Where Northern Ireland’s politicians were concerned it was “appalling beyond words that the plight of the many survivors in our community does not move them to swift action towards redress,” he said.
“The victims of the institutions were betrayed as children and betrayal upon betrayal continues to be heaped upon them, today, through the abdication and dereliction of duty, of those who could alleviate quickly, their suffering and distress.””