In previous blogs we have highlighted the work of the Fermanagh newspaper, The Impartial Reporter, and their coverage of abuse reports in that area and the creation of a new police taskforce to re-examine older complaints and to investigate more recent reports of historic abuse in the area.
BBC Spotlight has spoken to one of those who came to the paper and Kevin Brown has waived his anonymity to speak publicly about the abuse he reported. Mr Brown says that he was abused by at least 20 different men when he was around 12 years old and for at least another three years after that. Other victims have confirmed some of the names given by Mr Brown but those victims have retained their anonymity.
The Lord Chief Justice in NI, Declan Morgan, has appointed Mr Justice Adrian Colton to be the President of the new Redress Board. Mr Justice Colton was called to the Bar in 1983 and appointed QC in 2006. He was appointed to the High Court bench in 2015.
In 2016 he was appointed Presiding Coroner for NI and took responsibility for overseeing the management of inquests around controversial killings in Northern Ireland.
In 2017 he was appointed Senior Criminal Judge.
Following the passing of the Historical Institutional Abuse (Northern Ireland) Bill in the last hours of the parliament before the recess for the December election there has been a rapid progression in the matter.
The recommendations were made in 2017 but since then, the collapse of the NI Executive and the disruption caused by Brexit and debates about who could or could not make laws for NI, little had progressed.
A masked man has spoken to the Belfast Telegraph newspaper and admitted that nine former residents of St Patricks Home in West Belfast had been responsible for an arson attack on the premises. The arson continues to be investigated by the PSNI but the man indicated that he and his accomplices were happy that there was no evidence remaining from the blaze and did not fear prosecution.
The man said he was part of a survivors group representing approximately 140 former residents of the home run by the De La Salle Order. St Patrick’s closed as a residential facility and the property was sold to a development company.
In an earlier Blog we advised of a case of ‘catfishing’ (when a person pretends to be someone else to entice victims in online scams or abuse). We highlighted the issue and we raised the concern at the liability internet providers or employers may face for failing to prevent such attacks.
Brendan McAllister was appointed Interim Advocate for the victims of abuse in residential care and has had a difficult time in his few months in post. He has dealt with the new Secretary of State, the stresses caused by the absence of an Assembly, the conflicts within the political arena as a result of Brexit, the falling of the legislation intended to implement the necessary arrangements when Parliament was prorogued and now he faces a different issue.
Sir Declan Morgan, Lord Chief Justice for NI, has said that it is “shocking” that 2 ½ years after the final report of the HIAI, lead by Sir Anthony Hart who sadly died earlier this year without seeing his recommendations implemented, was released there has been no progress in implementing those recommendations.
Along with recommendations on apologies, a memorial and the appointment of a Commissioner for survivors and victims the report recommended a Redress Scheme. While an interim advocate has been appointed to assist the survivors in pressing their agenda forward there has been no progress in the creation of a Redress Scheme.