Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry Report

Part of Private Members' Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 10:15 am on 23rd January 2017.

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Photo of Claire Hanna Claire Hanna Social Democratic and Labour Party 10:15 am, 23rd January 2017

I thank all those who have spoken. Like others, I attended the launch of the report on Friday and have spent some time since reading it. I think that, for everybody there, it was a very difficult few hours — even for those of us who did not live through those experiences. It has to be said how much the strength, dignity and determination of the campaigners came through on Friday, as it has for many years. It was clear that, for a lot of people, that experience opened up decades of suffering. It must have taken incredible bravery to go to that inquiry and tell your story. That has to be commended, as have, as Mr Poots said, those who facilitated and worked in the inquiry.

Friday's report was a very long time coming; it was my mother, Carmel Hanna, who proposed the motion here in 2009 to set up an inquiry. That was over seven long years ago and after many years of campaigning by the survivors. They saw the inquiry as the next piece of the jigsaw after the Ryan report, which detailed grotesque and systematic abuse in over 200 institutions in the Republic. That report was a watershed moment in Irish politics; it led to a fundamental changing of the relationship between Church and state, and it set the ball rolling for some of the redress that is required here. It provided some catharsis in society by allowing people to have their story heard.

The Hart report, like Ryan, is a horrifying account of so many children's lives being shattered. I read it as a mum, as a Catholic and, like most people, just as a human. What those children were put through is an absolute inversion of the values that most people here will try to put into practice in their faith life or home life. The thought that so many people who perpetrated that abuse did so when they were entrusted as faith institutions makes it all the more appalling, as was the evidence that, in some cases, congregations knew about the abuse and failed to stop it.