The Northern Ireland Executive has issued a formal apology to people abused as children in 20 state and church-run institutions in the region over the course of 70 years.
Ministers Michelle McIlveen, Conor Murphy, Nichola Mallon, Robin Swann, and Naomi Long offered a public apology to victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse in Parliament Buildings in Belfast today, March 11.
Historical Institutional Abuse Apology - 11 March 2022
An event to issue a formal apology to the victims and survivors of historical and institutional abuse is being held today in Parliament Buildings. Executive Ministers Michelle McIlveen, Conor Murphy, Nichola Mallon, Robin Swann and Naomi Long will deliver the apology. The event will take place at 12:30pm today.Posted by Northern Ireland Assembly on Friday, March 11, 2022
Fiona Ryan, the Commissioner for Victims and Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse, acknowledged the pain and suffering endured by all victims of abuse in historical institutions in Northern Ireland and paid tribute to everyone who had campaigned for an inquiry into historical abuse.
"We are talking about the systemic abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect of children for decades in residential institutions in Northern Ireland," Ryan said on Friday.
"For this abuse to succeed on this scale requires not only individual abusers and institutions to perpetrate the abuse, but failed oversight and accountability on the part of the public authorities."
Ryan called for a moment's silence to pay tribute to any victims who died before the state apology could be delivered.
The apology followed a seven-year public inquiry into 20 residential institutions over seven decades.
The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry was the child abuse inquiry in the history of the United Kingdom and involved the testimony of more than 400 victims.
The inquiry heard that there was a litany of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse in children's homes and juvenile justice centers across Northern Ireland, with most allegations directed the Sister of Nazareth and the De La Salle Order, two prominent Northern Irish religious orders.
Both orders have already apologized for the abuse but apologized again on Friday.
Four other religious institutions named by the inquiry, including the Sisters of St Louis, the Good Shepherd Sisters, Barnardo's, and Irish Church Missions, also apologized publicly.
The First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland were initially expected to apologize on behalf of the Stormont Executive, but this is no longer possible following the resignation of former First Minister Paul Givan over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Five ministers representing each of the main parties in the Executive delivered the apology instead.
Survivors gathered at Stormont on Friday to hear from the ministers and from the religious orders responsible for the abuse.
Margaret McGuckin, who ran a victim's support group, said in a statement that the public apologies would help victims "straighten up" and take the weight off their shoulders.
"I think it will help them to straighten them up and take that weight they've carried for a lifetime on their shoulders, the blame, the shame and the pain," McGuckin told RTÉ.
A state apology was one of the central recommendations of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry.