Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry Report

Part of Private Members' Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 10:30 pm on 23rd January 2017.

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Photo of Pat Sheehan Pat Sheehan Sinn Féin 10:30 pm, 23rd January 2017

I also welcome the opportunity to speak in the debate, and we welcome the findings of the Hart report. What is important in a general sense is that it acknowledges the hurt and suffering of so many and the wrong done over many years. I suppose that I, like most of us, grew up in a happy family where our parents cared for us. When we had needs, they looked after us and helped us. They ensured that we got a good education. We were kept clean and tidy, and they did all the things that parents do. I pay tribute to all the victims and survivors who came forward and shone a light on the abuse of children in care.

Like others, I was in the Crowne Plaza hotel listening to Anthony Hart read out his report, and it is the stuff of nightmares. For the victims in all those homes, it was not just a nightmare but a reality. I commend them for their courage in coming forward. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind — I agree with Edwin Poots on this point — that we will probably never be able to eradicate abuse in the system completely, but future generations of children will be safer as a result of the actions that the victims and survivors have taken and their determination to ensure that the truth was told. All of us with any leadership role in society or the community owe you a debt of gratitude, and I thank you for your relentless pursuit of justice for all those who suffered in institutions. Your actions have exposed what Judge Hart described as "systemic failures".

We also know that there are many victims who did not or, more likely, could not come forward to give their testimony, and our thoughts should also be with them today. Sinn Féin wants the recommendations of the historical institutional abuse report to be implemented as soon as possible in order to address the needs of victims and survivors. The state and the institutions in question failed in their duty to protect vulnerable children in their care.

It is important that, as Judge Hart recommended, victims and survivors receive compensation for the abuse that they suffered. Of course, no amount —