Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse is a support and campaign group of survivors and victims of institutional abuse in Northern Ireland. We aim to offer mutual support and act as a coherent voice for the needs and demands of survivors of institutional abuse and to campaign for justice for the many children – now adults – who suffered physical, sexual, mental and emotional abuses in institutions across Northern Ireland.
We are a group of former residents of children’s institutions in Northern Ireland and, as advocates of healing, support and justice, we aim to regain the self-respect, dignity and recognition denied to us as children.
The group was established following the publication of the Ryan Report (which uncovered a shocking litany of historic abuse in the Republic of Ireland), when former survivors of institutional abuse developed a campaign to highlight the abuses and neglect that also took place in institutions in Northern Ireland.
We believe that the individual victims of past abuse are entitled to an effective investigation of past abuses, proper recognition and full redress. We aim to provide a voice for victims and survivors of abuse and to ensure that they are consulted by the Government in order to shape the necessary Inquiry, as well as the support services that should be available to all survivors of abuse in residential institutions.
The group developed a petition to lobby the Northern Ireland Executive to hold an Inquiry to establish the extent of child abuse in religious and state-run institutions, and to provide assistance for survivors of institutional abuse. The petition received more than 6,000 signatures and, in November 2009, the campaign was instrumental in securing all-party support in the Northern Ireland Assembly.
We have lobbied successfully for support from all the main Northern Ireland political parties and secured a commitment in December 2010 from the Northern Ireland Executive to examine the needs of victims and to establish an inquiry into historical institutional abuses.
We are currently campaigning to ensure that the inquiry properly meets the needs of victims so that it will be effective in delivering truth, justice and redress. In March 2011 we met with the inter-departmental taskforce established by the NI Executive to make recommendations on this inquiry and made a comprehensive submission to the taskforce in May 2011.