Today I am looking at historic abuse.

On the day that the public inquiry is launched in Northern Ireland called the  Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry (HIA) looking at allegations dating from 1922 to 1995. I read that 434 people have contacted the inquiry to state that they’ve been abused. This includes all four categories of abuse: physical, sexual, emotional and neglect.

A lot of people will say it’s about time, some will say it’s too late, but I believe that the majority will be very surprised still if the findings are anything but damning.

There are several key areas that this initiative covers. Firstly I would like to know why it doesn’t cover the whole UK. It was a golden opportunity to do this. Secondly although the inquiry has a legal power to compel witnesses to give evidence it has no power to pursue criminal proceedings and so must pass on allegations to the police. It could be argued that the expected 18month duration of the inquiry is yet another delay in justice, especially if you accept that some of many of the 434 allegations turn out to be true. Thirdly, I wonder if it will tackle allegations that organisations who ran institutional care of children over that period where the alleged abuse was taking place were instructed not to accept liability by the insurance companies who allegedly threatened to withdraw cover if organisations apologised and accepted as true the children’s stories.This would mean that the insurance companies knowingly put profit before children’s welfare. Of course I hope this is not true.

Thousands of children were shipped abroad in that period of time – hence the wide geographical spread of complainants. It must be hoped that part of the reason people are now coming forward reflects the increasing sensitivity and professionalism of those charged with receiving complaints and how they are dealt with in the system. The surge of complainants following the Jimmy Savile revelations was a good indicator of increased confidence in the system and the knowledge is now out there that, in all likelihood, we will be treated fairly, confidentially and by people who are far better trained than they used to be in dealing with your circumstances.

Whatever happens this, at last, is a signal that society treats those individuals and institutions who abuse our children firmly and transparently. I would like to see a further step along the lines of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission chaired by Bishop Desmond Tutu to help heal the deep wounds and somehow give a little solace to the hundreds if not thousands of people who have lived with this burden all their lives.

For more information on the news story click here

Facebooktwitterpinterestlinkedinby feather