R ELATIONS between civil servants and institutional abuse survivors are suffering due to ongoing delays in establishing an official inquiry, a local victim has claimed.
Margaret McGuckin, who suffered abuse at the Nazareth House former care home on the Ormeau Road, spoke out following a recent meeting with staff from the Office of the First and Deputy First Minister.
The local woman joined fellow members of the Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse (SVIA) lobby group to discuss the planned inquiry, but was left “frustrated” with what occurred at the Stormont meeting. She claimed the meeting was also delayed due to an official from the department “running late”, and said the group were considering a complaint over the Stormont summit.
“We were left waiting for up to half an hour, and when things did get going, we were struck at the coldness of the whole thing,” she said.
“They had been very sensitive in dealing with us up to now, as you would expect with such an issue, but at this last meeting, it seemed there was little compassion or understanding. They were non-committal and were not forthcoming about how and when the inquiry might get off the ground.”
The inquiry is expected to take up to two years to establish, adding to the pain of survivors who suffered physical and emotional abuse while under the care of the Sisters of Nazareth order as a child, said Margaret.
“The longer we wait the harder it is, but when we are treated like that it makes it a lot worse,” she added.
“We feel so strongly that we are considering a complaint over this meeting. It’s a difficult process for us, and that pain should be respected, and handled in a sensitive manner, which we feel it was not last week.”
A spokesman for OFMDFM said the department would not be commenting on the meeting ahead of any complaint being made.