Thursday, 28 February 2013

Northern Ireland Abuse - where next?

The extent of news and announcements surrounding abuse these days is somewhat epidemic. The latest revelation (well perhaps quite not revelation as it has been around for a while) is a Commission of Inquiry in Northern Ireland to look at abuse many years ago within institutions, which will simply have an investigative rather than a compensatory arm.

They have announced a poster campaign to alert survivors to their existence, and encourage them to come forward in order to tell their stories of abuse. For more details go to our Abuselaw webpage where we have posted the story.

The Commission is staffed by various experts in the field, including a fellow ACAL Executive Officer called David Lane, who has many years experience as a Social Work Consultant. They will listen to the allegations of abuse and make recommendations. It is called the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry and can be found on the web at

The Northern Irish Government has been a bit slow to catch up in that its sister, Eire, apologised for abuse committed at the hands of the government in institutions for many years, in partnerships with various religious bodies such as the Catholic Church and various other religious bodes, who had acted in partnership to run the country's care, and educational systems for many years. They set up the Residential Institutions and Redress Board at the beginning of the millennium, and closed its doors in 2005. The compensatory arm was set up at a time when Ireland had a lot of European Grant money, which Britain didn't get, when it joined the Euro. The money has since run out, hence its closure.

Northern Ireland has a similar, but different at the same time, problem to south of the border. Often mentioned is various Nazareth House homes, but there are many others. We have Northern Irish clients too, but normally when they have emigrated over here to escape the poverty (and maybe abuse)

Northern Ireland has the same jurisdiction to England and Wales, but the laws are slightly different locally. The law of sexual abuse and time delays is no different.

I hope that NI extend their government commission to include a compensatory element as it is unreasonable to offer one but not the other. It tells me that they are paying lip service to the need to listen and be understanding without going over the top, denying the victims a choice of speaking their truth, and at the same time appear to be caring for the needs of some of the most vulnerable in our society.

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