Leaders will offer a public apology to victims and survivors of institutional abuse in Northern Ireland next month.
Paul Givan, the First Minister, and Michelle O’Neill the deputy First Minister confirmed the details of the apology. It was also a major recommendation from a public inquiry into abuse.
This inquiry looked into allegations of sexual, physical and emotional harm to children who were placed in residential facilities between 1922-1995.
The study examined 22 institutions that were run by charitable, religious and government organisations in Northern Ireland during the past 73 years.
The victims included thousands, and children’s homes were investigated in all parts of the country including Belfast, Lisburn, Derry.
On behalf of powersharing executives, Mr Givan will be accompanied by Ms O’Neill to deliver an apology at Parliament Buildings in Stormont.
Michelle O’Neill, deputy First Minister and Paul Givan are the first ministers at this press conference held at Parliament Buildings in Stormont. The first ministers will apologize publicly to victims of abuse on March 11.
Representatives from religious and state organizations will be called to make statements about their involvement in the abuse.
Ministers today presented details on the official apology, marking the fifth anniversary since the publication of the landmark inquiry’s findings.
Another recommendation in the report was to establish a financial redress program for survivors.
“Victims of institutional abuse in the past have our support and will be able to receive all support and recognition they need,” said Mr Givan.
“Our priority is to approach an apology with care, sensitivity and the understanding of survivors and victims.
“Since publication of Hart Report, our priority has been providing practical support to victims and survivors.
This included the creation of the Historical Institutional Abuse Redress Board and the appointment a Commissioner to Survivors. The Victims and Survivors Service also provided support services for health and well-being.
“We hope that public apologies will be valued as a valuable means of acknowledging the harm done to victims, survivors and all members of society.”
Ms O’Neill said that historical institutional abuse shouldn’t have occurred.
“While we cannot excuse the terrible failures and pain suffered by victims and survivors, it is their obligation to apologize for any harm caused.
“We met with survivors and victims, representatives groups and the Commissioner of Survivors for Childhood Institutional Abuse in order to ensure that the apology recognizes the shortcomings of a system meant to protect vulnerable children.
Margaret McGuckin (Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse) stated that they aren’t going to quit, and there’s still a lot of work to be done.
“We recognize that different opinions exist on public apology.
“We announce this date early to give victims and survivors an opportunity to voice their opinion on the content and arrangements of the apology.
“This moment of forgiveness will be important, but it is also a very difficult and emotionally charged day for many.
“The survivors and victims of the tragedy are our priority and we will ensure we provide the necessary support before, during and following the apology.
The apology will be transmitted, but the limited number of guests invited to Parliament Buildings due to ongoing public health issues will limit their numbers.