Commissioner urges all with influence to find a solution to make Apology happen on 11th March

10 February 2022

Apology to victims and survivors of institutional childhood abuse 5 years delayed but lifetimes’ late

The Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse Fiona Ryan today again urged all those with influence to work together to make the Apology to victims and survivors of historic institutional child abuse happen on 11th March saying the apology was five years delayed and lifetimes’ late. 

The Commissioner’s principal duty is to promote the interests of victims and survivors. She addressed the Committee for the Executive Office on Wednesday on the impact of last week’s events which left victims and survivors distraught and in disbelief at what had happened. She underlined today (Thursday) that this anxiety is increasing as the Apology continues to hang in the balance.

“The last week has been harrowing for Victims and survivors many of them are still in a state of disbelief. There is this sense of “not again”. Words like anger and sadness don’t come near to describing the depth of feeling. Rage and distress are closer and underneath, such terrible sadness and disappointment. Victims and survivors are telling me they feel disregarded, discarded; their pain not seen, not heard just like when they were children.

“Let’s be clear, this Apology is officially overdue by five years but in reality it is lifetimes’ late and none of us should ever forget that. I have been urging since last week that those with influence go beyond politics and understand how much this apology is needed. And while we need to go beyond politics to understand the symbolic importance of the Apology and it’s personal value to victims and survivors, in the end this is a political decision.

“We are focussing so much on who is making the Apology there is a risk of not remembering the most important people in all of this; the people to whom an apology is owed and needs to be offered to - the victims and survivors of institutional childhood abuse. Their views are the views that matter. The victims and survivors need to be engaged with throughout this process. I am conscious that the majority of victims and survivors in the community may not have disclosed their experiences to even those closest to them and how hard these developments and public conversation may be for them to listen to.”

The Commissioner sent a joint letter to the First Minister and deputy First Minister on hearing breaking news reports of the First Minister’s resignation. She also wrote to the Head of the Civil Service asking for a status update and progress plans in relation to the Apology as well as the ongoing review of the Redress process. The Commissioner has also asked what would happen with any recommendations emerging from the review, who and how it could be taken forward so that it avoided becoming just another report “gathering dust on a shelf”.