Northern Ireland

Leaders hail 'positive and significant' abuse meeting

The first and deputy first minister have described a meeting with survivors of abuse as "positive and significant".

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness met the delegation at Stormont on Thursday.

Afterwards, they described the stories they had heard as "deeply harrowing".

Campaigners have called for a public inquiry in Northern Ireland following two reports in the Irish Republic, which said that abuse in Catholic and state-run institutions was endemic.

The Assembly has already voted to hold an inquiry into institutional abuse in NI.

After the meeting, one of the victims, John McCourt, said he was "very encouraged that the first and deputy first ministers have decided to take the lead in this matter".

He added: "I think it would be fair to say that privately there was an acknowledgement among the first and deputy first minister that they were sympathetic to where we were coming from."

Quest

In a joint statement, the first and deputy first ministers said they were determined to help survivors in their "quest for answers".

It continued: "Victims are entitled to a fulsome apology from those responsible and we have assured them that we will take the lead in moving these issues forward and co-ordinating with relevant departments.

"Everyone appreciates that this is a highly complex and sensitive issue that must be resolved.

"As we look to learn the lessons of the past there is much that we can do for victims in the present ensuring that their current needs are met."

Another abuse survivor Margaret McGuckin said: "I think we will have a genuine result. I'm very, very hopeful and I am pleased with what went on (at the meeting)."

She said she came out of the talks feeling she could trust Mr Robinson and Mr McGuinness.

"They said they will endeavour to do anything that needs to be done to get this ended."

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