Historical inquiry team to investigate Good Shepherd Convent in Derry

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry continues at Banbridge Courthouse.
The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry continues at Banbridge Courthouse.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry has announced that it will be investigating the Good Shepherd convent in Derry.

Chair of the inquiry, Sir Anthony Hart, this morning announced the names of a further six institutions to be investigated by the Inquiry, bringing the total number to 22.

He stressed that the Inquiry, which has already held 157 days of oral hearings in Banbridge Courthouse, will still complete its investigations by July 2016 and submit its report in January 2017.

The additional institutions are three Good Shepherd convents at Derry, Belfast and Newry, Manor House (a children’s home near Lisburn); Millisle Borstal and St Joseph’s Training School for Girls at Middletown, Co Armagh).

The Chairman said that in drawing up this list of six additional institutions the Inquiry had carefully considered information in respect of 54 homes and institutions in relation to which at least one person had made an allegation.

However to hold hearings in respect of each of these could take a further two years and cost at least another 8 million pounds without significantly adding to the Inquiry’s understanding of the nature and extent of systemic failings

Sir Anthony also spoke of the Inquiry’s views on redress for victims and stated:

“Because our investigations are not complete we are not yet in a position to say what our findings of systemic failings will be, or what all our recommendations will be. However, what we can now say is that from the evidence we have heard so far we will recommend that there should be a scheme to award financial compensation to those children who suffered abuse in children’s homes and other institutions in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995.”

The Chairman went on to announce that the Inquiry would be conducting a targeted consultation to gather further views and suggestions on redress from all the applicants who had contacted either the Inquiry or the Acknowledgement Forum.

The consultation period will run until Friday 8 January 2016. Further details can be found on the Inquiry’s website.

The Chairman emphasised that the final decision on redress did not rest with the Inquiry, commenting that:

“Although our Terms of Reference provide that the Inquiry will make recommendations and findings on a number of matters, the final decision as to whether there should be any form of redress, and what form it may take, are matters for the Northern Ireland Executive to decide.”

Sir Anthony acknowledged that some individuals may be disappointed that public hearings will not be held for every home or institution against which allegations have been made. However he added that the decision not to hold a public hearing in respect of a home or institution did not mean that the Inquiry had decided that abuse did not occur in those locations. He also clarified that it would not have any effect on any recommendations that may be made for compensation or other forms of redress.

“Any recommendations that we make for any form of redress, including compensation, will apply to any person who was abused within a children’s home or other institution within our Terms of Reference, whether or not that home or institution was investigated by the Inquiry.”