There is no excuse for delaying damages to historical abuse victims

Letter to the editor
Letter to the editor

I am writing regarding the DUP’s response (April 22) to a letter written by Cyril Glass, a survivor of institutional abuse who has given evidence to the HIA Inquiry.

Cyril’s letter was open, honest and heartfelt and I was saddened and demoralised by the DUP’s curt reply.

They say they are fully aware of the sensitivities of the issue yet it seems they have chosen not to demonstrate this.

At a January Assembly meeting, Mr Adrian Cochrane-Watson asked the First Minister for an update on the progress of redress consultation and she chose to pass the responsibility to junior minister Emma Pengelly to answer.

To those survivors of child abuse who were repeatedly told they were worthless, this would have been hurtful and made them feel unworthy of the First Minister’s interest.

My 85-year-old mother who spent nearly 10 years in Nazareth House from the age of four certainly felt this way. Yes the DUP were central to the setting up of the Inquiry as were all the other parties.

It was, however, the then First Minister who, when asked if survivors would get compensation, said that they were not minded at that time to say that any compensation would be monetary. Now nearly five years later and with the knowledge that it has been traumatic for survivors to re-live their ordeals when giving their evidence, they have decided to maintain their position on withholding payment of compensation.

They have been shown by eminent professionals who have been involved in similar inquiries in other countries that compensation can be given before the findings are complete and Sir Anthony Hart has himself recommended that compensation be paid.

They will be aware that many victims have passed away during the term of the Inquiry and many more are elderly or suffering ill-health and as the days, weeks, months pass by how many more will go to their graves without knowing justice has been done?

I find it difficult to understand how the DUP say they are fully aware of the sensitivities of the issue and not act now on what survivors want - afterall the Inquiry was meant to be victim orientated and all other parties have agreed to a redress scheme.

Arlene Foster’s emotional and deserved tribute to Sister Claire showed compassion and depth of understanding of goodness.

I am in no doubt that if Mrs Foster knew of any child now suffering abuse, she would act immediately.

Just because this inquiry deals with abuse which happened historically it is nonetheless horrific and shouldn’t lessen the urgent need for justice.

There can be no excuse now, in view of Sir Anthony Hart’s statement last November for continuing to delay redress.

Margaret McGuckin, SAVIA (Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse)