The Diocese of Down and Connor has issued a statement in response to the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry Report which was published today by Sir Anthony Hart. The statement said:
“The Diocese of Down and Connor acknowledges, with a profound sense of shame, the report prepared by the HIAI and commends the professionalism of Sir Anthony Hart and all those who assisted him in conducting the investigations and preparing this report.
“This report raises many important safeguarding matters and provides a comprehensive and harrowing review and analysis of historical abuse across residential homes in Northern Ireland over many decades.
“The report concludes that there were indeed systemic failures that led to the abuse of children within institutional care homes run by the state, voluntary organisations and churches.
“The Diocese of Down and Connor apologises wholeheartedly, unconditionally and unreservedly to all those who have suffered abuse and carried the legacy of such appalling experiences from childhood as a result of any failing on the part of a representative of this diocese.
“The Diocese deeply values the courage of the survivors and victims who bravely came forward during this Inquiry and revisited a very difficult time in their lives in order to give their evidence and in the hope that lessons will have been learnt.
“The Diocese of Down and Connor will examine carefully and reflect upon the full report, on its findings and conclusions, and will continue to work closely alongside religious congregations and other state, voluntary and church providers of institutional care to assist the Executive Office of the Northern Ireland Assembly in addressing the recommendations of this report.
“The Diocese of Down and Connor hopes that this report and the implementation of its recommendations can aid the onward recovery of victims, survivors and their families as they seek truth and justice.
“The Diocese also hopes that this report will assist others who have been abused to find the strength and courage to come forward and report that abuse to the statutory authorities or to the appropriate safeguarding representatives. The Diocese of Down and Connor Safeguarding Office can assist and can be contacted on 028 9049 2798.”
The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry was formally established in January 2013 by the Northern Ireland Executive. Its remit was to investigate child abuse that occurred in residential institutions in Northern Ireland over a 73-year period from 1922 to 1995.