Progress made in HIAI recommendations

It has been announced that discussions between the political parties in Northern Ireland and the Head of Civil Service, David Sterling, have made some progress on the approach to the recommendations made by Sir Anthony Hart following the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI).

The HIAI made a number of recommendations in 2017 but the political impasse in NI has meant that nothing has happened in regard to the implementation of those recommendations.  Earlier this year a consultation process on draft legislation generated a significant number of responses.

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Cardinal Pell appeals convictions

On 5 June 2019 at the Victoria State Court of Appeal, Cardinal Pell’s legal team launched an application for leave to appeal his conviction on one charge of sexually penetrating a child under 16, and four counts of committing an indecent act on a child under 16 in a Melbourne cathedral more than 20 years ago. The Court is also hearing the appeal against the conviction at the same time.

Cardinal Pell was sentenced to six years in prison, which he is currently serving in a Melbourne prison and it is reported that he is being held in special protective custody because due to the nature of his convictions he is regarded as being at higher risk of harm from other prisoners.

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New independent chair to inter-departmental working group for mother and baby homes/Magdalene laundries and historical clerical abuse

The Department of Health in Northern Ireland have announced that Mr Peter McBride has been appointed as the Independent Chair of an inter-departmental working group to look at how the Executive can address issues surrounding mother and baby homes/Magdalene laundries and historical clerical child abuse.

It is expected the group will be in place for around a year and they will make recommendations to ministers at the end of that time.

This group has been announced by the Department of Health but is co-sponsored by The Executive Office.

Mr McBride has many years experience in the voluntary and community sector and is involved with a number of charities (BBC Children in Need and NI Council for Voluntary Action).

Written by Ciara McReynolds at BLM

Government called to re-set parameters for NDAs

As a result of the recent inquiry into sexual harassment in the House of Commons, which urged the Government to review the use of non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) in sexual harassment claims, the Women and Equalities Committee was tasked with carrying out an inquiry to look at the widespread use of NDAs in cases where any form of harassment or other discrimination is alleged.

On 11 June, 2019 the Women and Equalities Committee published its report on the use of NDA’s in discrimination and harassment cases.

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Abuse in football – Bob Higgins

Bob Higgins, the former youth football coach, who was recently found guilty of 46 charges of indecently assaulting 24 boys, mostly involving trainees at Southampton and Peterborough United between 1971 and 1996, has now been sentenced to 24 years and three months in jail.

Southampton FC has published a formal apology on its website to all victims and survivors of the abuse by Higgins, stating that it “recognises that some of the boys under our care suffered exposure to abuse when they should have received protection from any form of harm. For this, the club is deeply sorry.”

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Home DNA kits may lead to litigation

The developments in DNA and the readily available “DIY kits” may lead to a new wave of litigation as legacy adoptions are investigated.

In Ireland a 71 year old woman and her “daughter” took a DNA test and discovered that the mother had been given the wrong baby back by a religious order over 50 years ago.  It came to light following revelations that St Patricks Guild in Dublin had incorrectly registered over 100 births and the investigations into the organisation continue.  As investigations proceed and more people take tests that number is likely to grow.  It was as a result of the scandal that this lady and her “daughter” decided to take the DNA test.

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Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry: update and review

It was announced last week that the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry (SCAI) will hear evidence from two convicted abusers. This evidence will be heard via video link from prison during mid-June and early July. It will form part of the current Phase 4 of SCAI’s public hearings into residential care establishments run by male religious orders. The two men involved were sentenced to five and 10 years in jail in 2016 for assaulting pupils at a school in the late 1970s and 1980s.

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