The publication today by Sir Anthony Hart of the Report into historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland is a significant moment for survivors and their families.
They are uppermost in my
Notwithstanding the distressing experience of telling
their harrowing stories to the Inquiry, they have shown courage, dignity
and perseverance in bringing to light a dark and disturbing chapter in
the life of Church and society.
This comprehensive report allows
their voices to be heard and vindicated more widely so that all of us
can learn the truth, however unpalatable, about what happened in the
past and redouble our efforts to ensure such awful things are prevented
from occurring again.
Sir Anthony Hart approached his task in a
balanced and objective manner. He dealt sensitively with those who were
called to appear before the Inquiry. He has fulfilled a valuable
service to society as a whole. It is now important for all of us to
accept his findings as a fair reflection and analysis of how both Church
and State failed the most vulnerable members of our society.
welcome the publication of this Report and I accept its findings. I
apologise unreservedly to all those who suffered from their experience
in Church-run institutions, and to their loved ones. They have given
details for all to see of emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Their
story is one of anxiety, isolation and pain. I know well that my words
are inadequate in attempting to address the enormity of the harshness
and brutality which many innocent children experienced. There is never
an excuse for the abuse and ill treatment of children or any vulnerable
person, in any setting.
When the perpetrator is a priest or religious,
it is also an appalling betrayal of a sacred trust. I am ashamed and I
am truly sorry that such abuse occurred, and that in many cases children
and young people felt deprived of love and were left with a deep and
It is totally understandable that those abused
may find it hard to forgive or find reconciliation with the Church.
But we in the Church must do everything we can to submit to the demands
of justice and demonstrate that we are serious about making reparation
for the sins and crimes of the past.
I call on all those in positions
of leadership within the Catholic dioceses and religious congregations
concerned to engage in a constructive and urgent manner with the
agencies to be established by the new Executive to take forward this
I commit to doing all that I can - and also
to encouraging others throughout the Church - to support survivors of
abuse today and into the future.