Clerical Abuse Consultation Underway

Survivors of 'historical' institutional abuse - such as that by nuns and priests - in Northern Ireland are helping to shape the way ahead for an official probe.

Yesterday, the first consultation with the NI Taskforce got underway as part of a plan to decide the format and remit of a proposed abuse inquiry.

The meeting was in Armagh, with further consultations being held in Belfast and Londonderry during the week.

Last December, the Stormont Executive announced that an inquiry into institutional abuse would be held following intensive lobbying of ministers by victims and have now said the official 'Interdepartmental Taskforce on Historical Institutional Abuse' consultation with victims and survivors is officially underway.

Speaking after the first meeting in Armagh, the First Minister Peter Robinson emphasised: "In December we announced the establishment of an Interdepartmental Taskforce to bring back to the Executive recommendations on the nature of an inquiry into historical institutional abuse.

"At that time we emphasised how important it is that we get this process right and that we take into account the views of survivors themselves.

"Survivors have recounted to us their experiences and it is only right that they play a role in shaping how we respond to the issues that continue to impact so heavily on their lives."

Also commenting on the events, the Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said: "The Executive wants to see an approach that best meets the needs of survivors here. In achieving this, not only do we have to learn from the experiences of other jurisdictions but we must also listen to the views of survivors and ensure their voices are heard throughout the process.

"These events are an important part of this process and I would encourage survivors to come along, meet with the Taskforce and contribute to shaping an inquiry that can help bring a degree of closure to the legacy of hurt and suffering that so many people continue to endure."

The next meetings are scheduled for Thursday 10 March in Belfast and on Tuesday 22 March in Londonderry. Both consultation events commence at 2 p.m.

The closing date for written submissions on the nature of an inquiry into historical institutional abuse is Monday 23 May 2011.


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