Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry Report

Part of Private Members' Business – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 11:00 pm on 23rd January 2017.

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Photo of Clare Bailey Clare Bailey Green 11:00 pm, 23rd January 2017

As someone who has worked for Nexus, an organisation that works with the victims of sexual abuse and rape, I know fine well that this type of abuse has long-lasting and horrific consequences for victims and survivors. More often than not, it takes decades for them to find the space to speak their voice and reach out for some help. We need to ensure that these types of organisations are properly funded in order that they can continue to offer this avenue of help for those who need it.

It is impossible not to welcome this report. It is truly awful, as has been mentioned, but it is being debated in an environment where our government is crumbling by the day and the Executive are not here to move forward on it. I believe that the victims and survivors deserve much more than a half-empty Chamber and a non-existent Executive to move forward with what, I believe, they have probably just started.

I also share the concerns raised by Chris Lyttle about Kincora and those who did not feel that they could come forward and take part in this investigation and their reasons for doing so as well. I want to try to offer a bit of hope to them, that this report is just the first platform or step, and much more needs to be done, and we can be doing much more, to help.

I also think that the campaigners have done much more than wait for this report. They have fought, suffered and struggled to be believed and heard for most of their lives. I also believe that this House has wasted much more than eight months. We have to acknowledge that we have wasted most of the victims and survivors' lives in bringing this to where it is, and it is still not resolved.

When we hear the words "systemic failure", know that this institution is a major player in that system. I have untold admiration for the campaigners, and we can never again say that we do not know, or did not know, because we know.

We need to say sorry; and I am deeply sorry. I am also deeply sorry to every child in this country who is currently living with this fear and abuse. I want to do all I can to make sure that each and every one of them knows that we are listening and going to take action. We are coming to an election. When we go out with our pledges to the public, make this your number one pledge, because this crime did not end institutional abuse. This crime is prolific in our society. It is happening today, it will happen tomorrow and it happened yesterday. This is our shame.

The real tragedy of all this is the fact that, because of the failures of this Executive, these victims are still not seeing the justice that they deserve. Stormont is fast becoming a byword for corruption, and today its legacy of redress for these victims is certainly nothing to be proud of. This whole suffering is our entire shame.