SURVIVORS CALL

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Survivors of institutional child abuse in Derry are being urged to reveal their stories to investigators.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry team will be in the city tomorrow to give presentations on the structure of the probe and call for victims to come forward.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry was announced last June by the Stormont Executive to investigate institutions run by both the state and church as well as those under private or voluntary sector bodies from 1922 to 1995.

Inquiry chairman, retired judge, Sir Anthony Hart, will be accompanied to the city by inquiry team members including Derry-born Geraldine Doherty, who is also to sit on the inquiry panel.

At a public presentation which begins at 11am in the Everglades hotel, Sir Anthony is to explain the Inquiry’s work to date and set out a timeline for completion. He will provide details of the categories and numbers of institutions which have been identified so far and which may be the subject of the Inquiry’s investigation.

In addition, Norah Gibbons, a member of the Inquiry’s Acknowledgement Forum Panel, is to explain the work of that forum. While the Inquiry panel is holding the statutory public inquiry into historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland, the forum provides a confidential opportunity for survivors to talk about their experiences.

The forum has already started its work in Derry; a number of survivors from the city have recounted their experiences to it. The Inquiry is also launching a promotional campaign which will utilise advertising on bus shelters throughout Northern Ireland to try to engage victims and survivors who might not otherwise get to hear about the Inquiry.

Outreach posters and literature are also being sent to relevant organisations throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland, and to libraries, GP surgeries and hospitals in Northern Ireland.

The Inquiry team also plans to contact media outlets in other countries, including Australia and North America, to reach abuse survivors who left Northern Ireland.

Following the announcement that the Inquiry was to be set up, Jon McCourt, a campaigner from Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse (SAVIA), encouraged anyone affected by institutional abuse in the city to get involved.

He said: “I would urge anyone, particularly those in Derry, to get involved in this process.”

He said the Inquiry could involve around 200 people in Derry.