A major inquiry into historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland is launching an international appeal for victims and survivors to come forward. The inquiry seeks to investigate child abuse which occurred in residential institutions in Northern Ireland over a 74-year period, from 1922 up to 1995.
The Inquiry recognizes that there has been considerable migration from Northern Ireland to various parts of the United States and is anxious to encourage any survivors who suffered childhood abuse in Northern Ireland institutions but who now live overseas to get in touch. The Inquiry’s Chairman, Sir Anthony Hart, said he appreciates that the decision to contact the Inquiry can be a very difficult one for survivors, particularly if they live abroad. “We recognize that, for many potential witnesses, reliving their experiences will be very painful and traumatic,” he said. “Indeed, some will not have told their closest relatives or friends about the abuse they suffered. If they now live overseas, the thought of contacting the Inquiry may seem especially daunting. But we want to emphasize that we’re doing everything we can to make the process as easy as possible for those living abroad.”
The Inquiry is offering to meet the travel expenses of those who need to give their testimony in person. If a sufficient number of witnesses come forward from one country, the Inquiry will consider traveling to that country to hear their evidence. Potential witnesses are also offered the option of providing private testimony to the Inquiry’s Acknowledgement Forum if they don’t wish to participate in the public inquiry process.
To date, the Inquiry has identified more than 170 residential homes and other locations in Northern Ireland which could potentially form part of its investigation.
Survivors of childhood abuse in Northern Ireland institutions and any other potential witnesses who wish to contact the Inquiry should visit the Inquiry’s website at: www.hiainquiry.org or contact the Inquiry by telephone on 0800 068 4935. For more information or to discuss any of the above please contact Eileen at the Irish Pastoral Centre on 617.265.5300 X 13.