Inquiry into abuse in Northern Ireland
Another inquiry into historical abuse of children in institutions is now underway, with the panel now appointed for Northern Ireland’s Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (or HIA).
This statutory inquiry will investigate whether there were systemic failings by institutions or the state in their duties towards children in their care during the period 1922 to 1995. (The scope of the inquiry was originally 1945-1995 but it was widened in October 2012.)
The Inquiry has two main components: an Acknowledgement Forum will hear survivors’ stories in a confidential setting. There is also to be a Statutory Inquiry, which will gather documentary records and collect evidence from survivors and other witnesses.
When presented to Parliament, the report of the Statutory Inquiry will include recommendations and findings on:
• findings of institutional or state failings in their duties towards the children in their care and if these failings were systemic
• an apology – by whom and the nature of the apology
• recommendations as to an appropriate memorial or tribute to those who suffered abuse
• the requirement or desirability for redress to be provided by the institution and / or the Executive to meet the particular needs of victims
The Inquiry’s information leaflet (available here as a PDF) states that assistance is available for travel and accommodation costs for those people now living outside of Northern Ireland. One source estimates that 110 children were sent to Australia from Northern Ireland. This was arranged by the Catholic Child Welfare Council, acting on behalf of diocesan agencies and religious orders including the Sisters of Nazareth in Derry. For more information, see the Memorandum by the Family Care Society , provided to the House of Commons’ Inquiry into the Welfare of Former British Child Migrants (1997 – 1998)
To get involved with the Inquiry, you need to complete the Application Form on the HIA website. Any information you have about when and where you were in institutional ‘care’ in Northern Ireland will make completing the form easier. If you need helping finding your records, or getting any support, you can get help from the Child Migrants Trust and the Find & Connect Support Service in your home state – free call 1800 16 11 09, Monday to Friday 9.00am to 5.00pm.