SDLP Foyle MLA Sinéad McLaughlin has said victims of historical institutional abuse (HIA) are distraught at the prospect of an official state apology being cancelled.
The Joint First Ministers had been due to make a public apology to victims and survivors on March 11, but it will not take place as a result of the DUP’s decision to collapse the institutions.
Representatives of victims’ groups contacted Ms McLaughlin on Thursday and told her the prospect of the apology being cancelled was extremely distressing for those affected.
Executive Office Committee chair Ms McLaughlin said:
“There is a deep sense of hurt, anger and betrayal today among HIA victims and survivors at the prospect of the official state apology they have spent years fighting for being cancelled so the DUP can make a pathetic, last ditch attempt to shore up their plummeting popularity. These people have been through so much over the years, they have had numerous false dawns and the idea that this too will be taken from them makes me feel sick to my stomach.
“The fact that it took five years from the publication of the Hart Report to get to this stage is disgraceful in itself, a total failure from the Joint First Ministers and the Executive Office. Finally there was light at the end of the tunnel when it was announced last month victims, some of whom had been waiting decades, would finally receive their apology. When it was announced Paul Givan was quick to revel in the media spotlight, making countless appearances on television and radio and recognising how momentous it was for victims. Now less than a month later he is cruelly snatching it away from them.
“The actions of the DUP will have far-reaching consequences for everyone in the North, but to compound the hurt and pain of victims and survivors of HIA, some who have been through the worst experiences imaginable and carry the scars with them to this day, is incomprehensible. Paul Givan and his DUP colleagues should hang their heads in shame today. I will continue to work with victims and survivors and will do everything in my power to ensure they get the apology they so richly deserve.”