Northern Ireland

Clerical abuse inquiry panel to meet NI victims

Margaret McGuckin
Image caption Margaret McGuckin, of Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse, was abused

The Apostolic Visitation set up by the Pope last year is to meet the main group representing Northern Ireland victims of clerical abuse, in Newry on Friday.

Pope Benedict announced the Visitation in March last year in a pastoral letter to Catholics in Ireland.

It followed the publication of reports into abuse in Catholic institutions and in the Dublin archdiocese.

It has held meetings across NI and the Irish Republic this month.

The panel is being led by Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, the retired archbishop of Westminster.

Margaret McGuckin, of Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse, said she was abused at a Sisters of Nazareth orphanage in Belfast from the age of three.

She said she hoped the ongoing talks with senior members of the Catholic clergy "are not just for show".

Ms McGuckin said she believed that bishops were told not to take investigations further.

"They were told not to go to the police with any allegations that were made to them regarding the abuses so how are we, the victims of institutional and clerical abuse, ever meant to trust our bishops or the Vatican anymore.

The Pope's letter expressed sorrow and regret at the abuse perpetrated by priests on the island.

He said he would send teams of inspectors to some Irish dioceses, seminaries and Irish religious orders to investigate how far they had strayed from the new rules laid down by the Vatican to try to curb clerical abuse.

Five senior prelates are taking part in the inquiry panel.

As well as Cardinal Murphy-O'Connor, the others are Cardinal O'Malley, Boston, Archbishop Timothy Dolan, New York, Archbishop Thomas Collins, Toronto, and Archbishop Terence Prendergast SJ, Ottawa.

Friday's meeting comes a month after the Stormont Executive announced it was launching its own inquiry into historical and institutional child abuse.

More on this story