SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood has called for greater efforts to address child poverty across the North.
Mr Eastwood was speaking on an Assembly motion acknowledging the recent scandal of over 800 child deaths and burials in an unmarked mass grave over five decades at the Bon Secours Sisters Institution in Tuam.
Mr Eastwood said it is important that the horrendous truths of the past are uncovered but equally vital that the children of today are given the opportunities they deserve.
He said the State, both north and south of the border, played a big part in the shameful period in Irish history which saw unmarried mothers “sent away”.
“It is a period of our history that has been hidden away, kept secret and largely ignored for far too long.”
“Many people look to the Irish proclamation of 1916 for inspiration as it talks about cherishing all of the children of our nation equally. I think we massively failed that standard. Given the many revelations in the last number of years of how communities, institutions and organisations of the state or otherwise treated children and young people, I think we have a lot of making up to do.
He added: “Unfortunately, today we still have many children in Northern Ireland and my home city of Derry who are living in poverty. We still have people leaving school with very low educational attainment.
“Our job is to ensure that we have the proper investigations into all of the abuses of the past. It’s important that we get to the truth and find some level of justice for the victims. But our job is also to ensure that we leave a different legacy for people in the future. We need to ensure that we treat all of our children equally. It’s our job to ensure that our children are given all the opportunities to achieve their full potential, that they are not confined by a life of poverty – we are duty bound to complete that job.”
During the debate, Mr Eastwood also called on the First Minister and deputy First Minister to make progress on investigating the issues surrounding Magdalene Laundry-type institutions and clerical abuse in Northern Ireland.