A public apology for Historical Institutional Abuse will take place on 11 March 2022, the First Minister and deputy First Minister have announced.
Paul Givan and Michelle O’Neill will deliver the apology in Parliament Buildings on behalf of the Executive. There will also be statements made by representatives of relevant Institutions found by the Inquiry to have been responsible for systemic failing/system abuse.
Today’s announcement marks the fifth anniversary of the publication of the Hart Report, which made a number of recommendations, including a public apology.
First Minister Paul Givan said:
“Victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse have our full support, and we are determined they will receive the acknowledgement, support, and redress they deserve.
“Our priority remains approaching an apology with care and sensitivity, and basing it upon the experience of victims and survivors.
“Since the publication of the Hart Report, the priority has been to provide practical support for victims and survivors. This included establishing in legislation the Historical Institutional Abuse Redress Board, the appointment of a Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse, and the health and wellbeing support services delivered by the Victims and Survivors Service.
“We hope that a public apology will be seen as a valued means for acknowledging harm for victims and survivors of abuse, and for our society as a whole.”
The deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said:
“Historical institutional abuse should never have happened. While no apology will make up for the shameful failures, and the pain that victims and survivors have endured as a result, we owe it to them to acknowledge the harm they suffered.
“We have been meeting with victims and survivors, representative groups, and the Commissioner for Survivors of Childhood Institutional Abuse to help ensure the apology acknowledges the failures of a system that should have protected vulnerable children.
“We recognise that there are many different views on the public apology. We are announcing the date in advance as we want victims and survivors to have an opportunity to tell us their views on the arrangements and content of the apology.
“This apology will be an important moment, but we understand it will be an incredibly difficult and emotional day for many. The needs of victims and survivors are at the heart of this and we are working to ensure that we have the right support in place – before, during, and after the apology is made.”
The apology will be accessible to all who wish to view it, however, numbers in Parliament Buildings will be limited due to the ongoing public health situation.
The Executive Office will share details about accessing the event as soon arrangements have been confirmed.
If you wish to share your views on a public apology, you can make contact with the Historical Institutional Abuse Implementation Branch, who would like to hear your views before 10 February 2022. Further information can be found here: www.executiveoffice-ni.gov.uk/articles/historical-institutional-abuse-inquiry
If you feel that you may need support, the Victims and Survivors Service can be contacted on 028 9031 1678 or by their website: Victims and Survivors Service
Notes to editors:
- The HIA Inquiry Report highlighted that an apology can be viewed as formal recognition by government, or by a public authority, or by an institution, that they, or their predecessors, made mistakes in the way they treated the children in their care. The Report recommended that an apology should be done on a single occasion at a suitable venue.