Editorial - Voices of victims must be central

Issues around victims and justice have been well debated in the North but are still often misunderstood.

The terms themselves can mean very different things to different people, depending on a range of factors.

One thing that should be clear to everyone, however, is that all victims and survivors - no matter how they have suffered or who was responsible - deserve justice. Problems arise as to what form it may take but the necessity of justice is undeniable.

In the coming weeks and months, victims and survivors of historical abuse in children’s residential homes will take important steps in their campaign for justice.

Some of the cases date back to the early 1920s and, as a result, some forms of justice will be unavailable given the passage of time and the deaths of those involved.

While this will no doubt be of concern to some of those involved in the process, others, particularly those involved in the earliest cases, will be fully aware of this.

Perhaps this is where the broad and varying interpretations of justice can be a strength rather than a weakness.

As we move forward, affording victims and survivors to have the opportunity to tell their stories publicly, in properly constituted fora, should be regarded as central and indeed essential to achieving some form of justice.

The main concern in all of this, and in any process involving suffering caused in the past, must be the needs of the victims and survivors themselves.

It is their pain and these are their stories so the guiding ethos of this and any other inquiry should be their welfare.

It may not be possible to fully heal the wounds of the past but every effort must be made to limit the suffering in the present and provide victims and survivors with hope for a better future.