By Rebecca Black, PA
A long-awaited public apology is to be offered by five Stormont Ministers to victims of historical institutional abuse.
The compromise move comes as the office of the first and deputy first minister remains empty following the resignation of Paul Givan which also forced Michelle O’Neill from the joint office.
The public apology was recommended in the final report of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI) which was published five years ago.
Mr Givan and Ms O’Neill announced last month the apology would be given in Parliament Buildings in Stormont on behalf of the power-sharing executive on March 11th.
On 11 March, Ministers @MMcIlveenDUP, @conormurphysf, @NicholaMallon, @RobinSwannMoH and @naomi_long will offer a public apology to victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse.
Read their joint statement here ↓ pic.twitter.com/XhtnOTe8m6
— The Executive Office (@ExecOfficeNI) February 24, 2022
However, since then the DUP has resigned the first minister role, in protest at the workings of the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol, leading to doubt over whether the apology would go ahead.
It was confirmed on Thursday morning that the public apology would be offered by ministers Michelle McIlveen, Conor Murphy, Nichola Mallon, Robin Swann and Naomi Long.
This will be followed by apologies from each of the institutions where systemic failings were found in the inquiry report.
In a joint statement the ministers said March 11 will be a “hugely significant day”.
The apology will be made in the Assembly chamber as victims and survivors watch on from the public gallery.
A minute’s silence will also be observed for victims who have since passed away.
“Victims and survivors have waited too long to hear an apology for the awful harm that was inflicted on them as children, and in the years since,” the Ministers’ statement said.
“We want this apology to provide full acknowledgement of the wrong that was done, and the terrible failures that resulted in the abuse of children by the individuals and a system that should have protected them.
“We want to deliver an apology that is meaningful, meets the needs of victims and survivors, and is delivered in a way that helps them to move forward with their lives.
“We recognise that the experience of every victim and survivor is individual, and each have personal views on what they want to be included. We are listening to them and working to ensure the apology is developed in line with what they need to hear.
“As many victims and survivors as possible will be present in Parliament Buildings on the day, and we are putting arrangements in place in other regional venues for those who wish to come together to hear the apology.
“It will also be streamed online for all those who wish to watch from home, or across the world.
“We are mindful of the many victims of historical institutional abuse who have sadly died before having the chance to hear an apology delivered, and we have agreed to hold a minute’s silence in their memory on the day.”