Northern Ireland’s Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (Or: Ireland Calling)


The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry in Northern Ireland is the latest of five child abuse enquiries there. It is particularly relevant to Australia in that it will include Irish children sent here as “child migrants” (see previous posting). It has been estimated that over 100 of them could still be living in West Australia alone.

Many of these Irish children were sent to the notorious Bindoon facility operated by the Christian Brothers (see previous posting). The HIA inquiry will cover the travel expenses of those who need to give evidence in person, although if enough witnesses are found in Australia the inquiry may travel here to hear their testimony. Witnesses can also give evidence privately. The inquiry is scheduled to be completed by 2015 and to submit its report to the Northern Ireland Executive by January 2016.

The HIA inquiry head said: “We have to consider whether they might have been physically abused, whether they might have been sexually abused, but in addition we take a broad view of what is abuse, we include emotional abuse, such as humiliation of children. It may also include simple neglect, not feeding people properly, not clothing them properly,”

There have been concerns expressed from several sources, including the United Nations Committee Against Torture and Amnesty International, that the HIA inquiry will not cover clerical child abuse outside institutions, and would not cover institutions such as the terrible “Magdalene Laundry” (see previous posting). Where it goes further that the Australian Royal Commission, however, is that it covers all forms of child abuse. The Queensland Government’s 1998 Forde Inquiry has been taken as a model for the Irish HIA inquiry.

Australians can contact the Irish inquiry by phoning 1800 675 920 or through its website at

[Postscript: Last night, hundreds of corporate CEOs and politicians, including former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, participated in the St. Vincent de Paul’s “sleeping out rough” campaign in the mid-winter cold, to support action on homelessness. One notable CEO not seen was the Catholic Church’s Cardinal Pell. He is enjoying the northern summer in Rome at his palatial $30 million holiday home, Domus Australia (see previous posting).]


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TOMORROW: Shreddergate 2

That’s all I can say

Lewis Blayse (né Lewin Blazevich)


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