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

— it is so important we let the people who have put all those qualities into the public discourse know they have been validated and that the redress they are entitled to is delivered to them. They were children who were entrusted into the care of the state and deprived of that very fundamental human need for love, and they suffered the systematic sexual, physical and psychological abuse that others referred to.

Justice Hart's recommendations were very clear and reasonable, and it is important we deliver on them as soon as possible, a public apology is given by an Executive and those institutions involved and a memorial is built here, hopefully, in the grounds. I think that would be a symbol of society's public and permanent repentance, but I understand it would be difficult for many survivors to come to see. I think it is important as a reminder of that failure and of the idea that this cannot happen again.

Sir Anthony Hart made specific recommendations for practical provision in health, education and social support, which many people will require. He recommended the need for a commission and an advocate to make sure that those who need that support can access it. He also made recommendations for financial redress, and, as others said, literally no sum could compensate people for the life opportunities and the happiness that were denied them. But it is very long past time they had some comfort and the security of that financial compensation.

The publication of the report is a moment survivors have waited too long for. I think the possibility that we will show them the answers and leave it out of reach for much longer is not acceptable. The state has let them down too many times before and cannot continue to do so. The publication of the report and the direction of travel of the recommendations will not come as a surprise to any of us. The Executive commissioned the report, and I think the provisions should have been enacted, as should the proposals to widen the scope of inquiry to people who were abused in clerical settings outside institutions and those in mother-and-baby homes, which were not in the scope of the inquiry.

In finishing, I commend absolutely those who had the bravery to tell their story, and I hope they feel vindicated.