Politicians in Northern Ireland’s Stormont Assembly have called on the North’s Executive to look at the scale of abuse which took place in Catholic institutions in region in the past.
The nationalist SDLP tabled a motion in the Assembly on Monday which won a majority of support amongst other parties, calling for the Northern Ireland Executive to launch an assessment of the scale of abuse in Catholic-run and state institutions and to examine the provision of support services for victims.
The SDLP’s Carmel Hanna underlined that because “the relevant religious congregations operated on an all-island basis”, the Northern Ireland Executive needed to “act”. She added that the findings of the Ryan Report needed to be “complemented and finalised by a postscript for Northern Ireland” and she stated that this was why “the Executive needs to act now.”
A lawyer for some of the victims said last week that they believed they have been discriminated against since inquires in the south of Ireland did not extend to Northern Ireland.
Victims who were abused as children in institutions in Belfast run by Catholic nuns were in the public gallery of the North’s Assembly to hear the debate.
All parties condemned the litany of crimes against children revealed in the Ryan Report as a “disgrace against humanity”. However, there were divisions amongst the parties as to how best to address the legacy of abuse. The DUP, however, failed to win support for an amendment that fell short of calling for an inquiry.
52-year-old Margaret McGuckin who was a resident of Nazareth House in south Belfast where she said she was beaten by members of the Poor Sisters of Nazareth, said there was widespread support for a review of child abuse.
“We want to have an assessment of what happened but we are aware of the public’s concerns over the cost of inquiries,” she said.