Lisburn’s Manor House added to abuse inquiry

Jeffrey Donaldson MP
Jeffrey Donaldson MP

The former Lisburn children’s home, Manor House, has been added to the list of the institutions being investigated by the Historical Abuse Inquiry.

The Chairman of the Historical Abuse Inquiry, Sir Anthony Hart, revealed this week that Manor House, as well as five other institutions, would be added to the list, bringing the total being investigated 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. Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson said it was important that victims were given the opportunity to make their voice heard over the alleged actions of those connected to local homes.

“I welcome the inclusion of Manor House within the scope of the inquiry into historical abuse because it is important that the victims have the opportunity to tell their side and to provide information to the inquiry that will help to identify what has been done and who has been the subject of abusive behaviour.

“After all these years the victims are entitled to have these matters fully investigated and anyone responsible for abusive behaviour should be held to account for their actions.

“Clearly with the passage of time it is going to be difficult to get at the truth but that shouldn’t mean every effort isn’t made to give victims the closure they undoubtedly deserve at the end of a long and painful journey.”

The Chairman of the Inquiry 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 January 8, 2016.

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.