Public apology to Historic Institutional Abuse victims expected ‘to be made in March’

An announcement around an official apology from Stormont to those abused in historic institutions is expected to be made on Thursday.

Margaret McGuckin, of the victims group Savia, said she understands the announcement will be made via a written statement to the Assembly that an apology will be made in March, shortly before the end of this mandate.

The Assembly to set to be dissolved in the spring ahead of fresh elections.

Ms McGuckin (pictured, centre) told the PA news agency that the apology will mean the world to a number of victims still struggling with the impact of the abuse they suffered in homes.

It is five years since the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI) recommended compensation, a memorial and a public apology to abuse survivors.

The probe was set up in May 2012 to investigate allegations of abuse in 22 institutions in Northern Ireland between 1922 to 1995.

A compensation fund opened for applications last year following a delay amid a political row over whether Stormont or Westminster would foot the bill.

Ms McGuckin accused Stormont of “falling asleep at the wheel”.

“Finally, at last… it is nine years since the start of the inquiry, five years from the findings and still no apology,” she said.

“We had been considering legal action because they (Stormont) took their eye off the ball, they fell asleep at the wheel.

“We had to go to the High Court last year (around compensation payments) and we won, we told them we would win again.

“We have had to fight every step of the way.”

Ms McGuckin paid tribute to former Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith for his support but said it has been a “war” with Stormont.

She expressed regret that many of the abuse survivors died before getting to hear an apology.

“It broke them, they went to their graves blaming themselves,” she said.

“My brother is in a care home because of all that, I go up and visit him all the time, I told him, there is going to be an apology, they are going to say sorry to you, he nearly broke down in tears saying. ‘it wasn’t my fault, it wasn’t me.

“They ruined his life, he has no chance of a life on the outside because of what they did to him.

“This apology means a lot to certain people, just to know it is no their fault.

“It is too late for many, but it will mean a lot for some.

“I have suffered myself terribly over it, the apology is hanging over us like a millstone, until that final piece of the jigsaw is done.”

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