A long-awaited public apology to the victims of historical institutional abuse is being delivered at Stormont.
Survivors were in the Assembly chamber as a minute’s silence was held before the first of several apology on behalf of the powersharing executive.
DUP education minister Michelle McIlveen said: “Today, we say that we are sorry. Whilst in the care of the state you were made vulnerable – we did not ensure all our residential homes were filled with love and safety.
“We did not ensure these homes were all free from hunger and cold, from mistreatment and abuse. It was the state’s responsibility to do that, and it failed you.
“We neglected you, rejected you, we made you feel unwanted. It was not your fault. The state let you down.”
The apology is to be echoed by four other ministers, representing each of the main parties, in the absence of a first and deputy first minister.
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Representatives from six organisations, which ran the institutions, are also set to apologise.
They speak for religious orders De La Salle, Sisters of Nazareth, Sisters of St Louis and the Good Shepherd Sisters – as well as Barnardo’s and the Irish Church Missions.
The public apology was recommended in the final report of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI), which was published more than five years ago.
Inquiry chair Sir Anthony Hart outlined a series of recommendations after he revealed shocking levels of sexual, physical and emotional abuse in the period 1922 to 1995.
The recommendations included that those abused in state, church and charity run homes should be offered compensation as well as an official apology from government and the organisations which ran the residential facilities where it happened – and a memorial.