Northern Ireland

Stormont institutional child abuse inquiry asks people to register

Image caption A Stormont inquiry is taking accounts from victims and survivors of child abuse

Victims of abuse in care homes and other institutions in Northern Ireland are being invited to register to take part in a Stormont inquiry.

The first phase of the inquiry, a so-called acknowledgment forum, begins on Monday.

It will start hearing accounts of victims and survivors of abuse as soon as they have registered.

The inquiry will not get its full powers until the assembly passes the necessary legislation.

It will be chaired by former High Court judge Sir Anthony Hart.

The forum will examine allegations of abuse at children's homes, care institutions and borstals in Northern Ireland between 1945 and 1995.

The inquiry team said it had no problem with the starting date being altered to take in earlier cases.

However, Sir Anthony has opposed extending the scope of his inquiry to deal with abuse which took place outside institutions, pointing out that such a move would have significant implications in terms of time and money.

He gave evidence to a Stormont committee last week.

Sir Anthony told the Office of the First Minister and Deputy First Minister (OFMDFM) committee that changing its terms of reference to include foster care, schools or families would require a complete restructuring of the inquiry.

He also said he was opposed to the inquiry producing an interim report.

The inquiry was announced in December 2010.

It followed the damning Ryan Report in the Irish Republic which uncovered decades of endemic abuse in some religious institutions.

Wave Trauma Centres will be open every Friday morning in Belfast and Londonderry as a meeting facility, and a trained counsellor will be on hand if needed.

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