11 March 2022

In quotes – the Institutional Historical Abuse apology

11 March 2022

Stormont Ministers from the five main parties and representatives of institutions made a public apology to victims to historical institutional abuse in the Assembly Chamber on Friday.

Here are some of the main quotes from those who apologised and the reaction of the victims.

“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” – Commissioner for Victims and Survivors of Institutional Childhood Abuse Fiona Ryan.

“We neglected you, rejected you, we made you feel unwanted. It was not your fault. The state let you down” – DUP Education Minister Michelle McIlveen.

Ministers (left to right) Ministers Nichola Mallon, Robin Swann, Naomi Long, Conor Murphy and Michelle McIlveen as they head to the Northern Ireland Assembly chamber at Stormont before the delivery of the long-awaited public apology to the victims of historical institutional abuse (Brian Lawless/PA) (PA Media)

“This is where our laws are made, where we, ministers and those responsible for governing, are held to account. We are united in our acceptance of responsibility” – Alliance Justice Minister Naomi Long.

“The guilt and shame of what happened is not, nor has it ever been, your burden to bear. The burden belongs only to us; those who should have protected you” – SDLP Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon.

“What happened to each and every one of you was wrong. It should not have happened and it is critical that every possible step is taken to ensure that nothing like this happens to any other child in the care of the state – ever again”- UUP Health Minister Robin Swann.

“You, and all victims and survivors, deserve nothing less than full acknowledgement of the harm inflicted on you as children, and the suffering you have endured throughout your lives as a result of our failures” – Sinn Fein Finance Minister Conor Murphy.

“For our part, we wish to say we are sorry and wish to offer our sincere apology” – Brother Francis Manning, De La Salle.

“We recognise your pain and the long-awaited journey you have travelled to reach this day” – Sister Cornelia Walsh, Sisters of Nazareth.

“To those of you who suffered at any time while at St Joseph’s and are still carrying that pain, we say we are especially sorry that when you were a child or a teenager, you did not always feel safe or believed while at St Joseph’s” – Uainin Clarke, Sisters of St Louis.

Cait O’Leary speaking on behalf of the Good Shepherd Sisters order in the Northern Ireland Assembly chamber at Stormont (Brian Lawless/PA) (PA Wire)

“In one of our institutions, there was a practice of reading out misdemeanours and humiliating you in front of others. We unreservedly accept that this amounted to emotional abuse and deeply regret that you experienced this practice” – Cait O’Leary, the Good Shepherd Sisters.

“We acknowledge that the organisational failures at the time led to the abuse as a child you experienced living with us” – Michele Janes, of Barnardo’s.

“We recognise that such violations robbed you of your childhood and that you continue to live with the consequences to this day” – Reverend Mark Jones, Irish Church Missions.

“Why did they not apologise 30 years ago? Thirty years ago, they hopefully would have meant it. In my personal opinion I can’t accept the apology but for anybody else it is completely up to them” –  Peter Murdoch, a former resident of Nazareth Lodge Orphanage.

“I want to say I cannot and I will not accept an apology from De La Salle. I will never accept their apology for what they did to our family” – Alice Harper, sister of a former resident.

Kate Walmsley (left) and Margaret McGuckin (centre) of the Savia lobby group (Brian Lawless/PA) (PA Wire)

“The way they can put it right is to do what the religious orders have just done in Scotland and make a significant contribution immediately to the redress fund” – Jon McCourt, Survivors North West.

““They were made and forced to come to this stage today, with the greatest respect, they are not sincere at all. I believe the ministers were (sincere) and they felt it, but as far as the religious orders and the others, they were forced into that situation and I would take that with a pinch of salt” – Margaret McGuckin, Savia.

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