Derry Journal
4 June 2012

A centre will be opened in Derry to deal with what’s expected to be a large influx of survivors of institutional abuse in the North West.

Abuse survivor and campaigner Jon McCourt said the final plans are now being put in place for the facility in the city which will cater for those who come forward during a new child abuse inquiry which was announced by the Stormont Executive earlier this week.

The inquiry will investigate allegations of abuse at children’s homes and care institutions dating back to 1945.

Speaking to the Sunday Journal Mr. McCourt said he was pleased that a public inquiry will now be held in a move which he’s hailed as “the end of the beginning” for campaigners.

“It’s been a long road for a lot of people,” he said.

“The last three years have taken their toll on all of us. When I look back to when we first met with the First and Deputy First Ministers, everything we first put on the table, we got.”

Mr. McCourt said: “In all of us who have campaigned for this inquiry there is a definite sense of ‘at last’ but there’s also a sense of thinking about the people who didn’t live to see this. An awful lot of stories have to be told and this inquiry is about creating the space to deal with that legacy.”

The local campiagner said the inquiry would not be an easy process for victims and survivors.

“For some people, returning to what happened will be retraumatising but we hope this inquiry will open up the conversations in a guarded and safe manner and let them tell the truth of their experiences. This is now in the public domain and there is no longer a veil over it. What we want is for the institutions and governments tobe held to account. Accountability is the bottom line,” he said.

Mr. McCourt confirmed there would be a facility for Derry victims and survivors here in the city.

“It’s vital that people from Derry and Donegal don’t have to endure travelling to Belfast to tell their stories and we will have a base here in the city where people can come and the forum will meet here during the inquiry,” he added.

Former High Court Judge Sir Anthony Hart is to chair the abuse inquiry. Organisations questioned will include Catholic religious orders, state and voluntary groups.