One in five abuse survivors speaking to Northern Ireland’s Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry are from the North West, it’s been revealed.
More than 180 people have so far submitted applications to the Inquiry and 91 of those have been interviewed, Chairman Sir Anthony Hart said at the launch of a promotional campaign for the tribunal in Derry today.
He revealed that since the inquiry began its trawl for victims of institutional abuse in Northern Ireland, 36 people from Derry, Strabane, Limavady and Co Donegal had applied to testify to the Inquiry and/or its Acknowledgement Forum - a panel which listens to the stories of each individual and how the abuse has affected their lives.
Scores of people, many of whom were the victims of abuse at various institutions in the North West area, attended the event at the Everglades Hotel.
The Inquiry is keen to hear from victims and survivors, and other potential witnesses, whether they are living in Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland or elsewhere.
But the Inquiry Chairman has called for many more victims to come forward with applications.
“There are potentially thousands of people who may come forward - we have no way of knowing,” he told the ‘Journal’ today.
So far, 35 different sites have been identified as ones which may potentially be the subject of the Inquiry’s investigation, Sir Anthony explained. Fifteen of those were run by local authorities, including County Council Welfare Committees and workhouse which closed after World War II; four were borstals or training schools; three were run by voluntary organisations associated with Protestant or secular organisations; and 13 were run by Roman Catholic religious orders, he said. They are to be named at a date deemed appropriate by the Inquiry.
Sir Anthony also launched a promotional campaign in the North West which will utilise advertising on bus shelters to try to engage victims and survivors who might not otherwise get to hear about the Inquiry. The advertising campaign includes bus shelter posters in Derry, Limavady, Strabane and Dungiven.
The Inquiry is also distributing outreach posters and literature to relevant organisations throughout the UK and the Republic of Ireland, and to libraries, GP surgeries and hospitals in the North West. The campaign theme is, ‘Talk to Us – We’ll Listen’.
Application forms can be downloaded from the website www.hiainquiry.org or requested by calling the Inquiry helpline on Freephone 0800 068 4935.
(See Friday’s Derry Journal for more coverage)