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 Paula Bradshaw Paula Bradshaw Alliance 10:15 am, 23rd January 2017

I do not intend to speak for very long this evening. I think the time for talking is over. It is a time for action, implementation and healing. I put on record the absolute support of the Alliance Party for the recommendations in Sir Anthony Hart's inquiry report. I am particularly saddened for the victims of abuse who have campaigned for justice with the utmost dignity and courage. The Executive have now collapsed, and we are heading into a needless election, and this inquiry report, along with many others, is left waiting urgent attention from the new Executive when they get up and running.

When the victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse and their supporters came to Parliament Buildings last June — I had the pleasure of meeting Margaret McGuckin, who is in the Gallery this evening — they came to tell MLAs and their supporters that Sir Anthony Hart's report was planning to include a recommendation for a process for redress. It could not have been clearer that the most sensible course of action at that time was for the two Executive parties to ensure it was provided for within the Programme for Government and that an associated budget was included. So, eight months ago it was clear the report was going to come out in January and the chair of the inquiry was going to make the recommendation for redress, amongst other things. If the structure and resources for redress had been worked up behind the scenes, instead of us debating the recommendations of the inquiry report this evening, we would be discussing our support for the programme of redress and its immediate implementation. This is to the shame of the Executive parties, which had the power and, more importantly, the opportunity over the last eight months to make this happen. I do not want to make political points tonight, but I think we have wasted eight months, because we knew exactly what Sir Anthony Hart was going to recommend.

In conclusion, I put on record the Alliance Party's thanks to Sir Anthony Hart. We appreciate his diligence and tenacity in producing such a balanced and fair report. As well as the programme for redress, we support the recommendations for a public, unconditional apology, the creation of the position of a commissioner for survivors of institutional child abuse and the delivery of a memorial. I ask Members here that, unlike with so many other things in Northern Ireland, we do not make the memorial a contentious issue. The last thing that we want to do is fight over where it is located, its format and other such issues.

On the far side of the election, it is incumbent on each and every person re-elected to push for the report's recommendations to be implemented immediately. The victims and survivors of this abuse have been let down time and again, and it is time for that to end. No more talking: it is time for action.