Some victims of abuse at the St Patrick’s Boys’ home in west Belfast say they have been left with no option but to “take matters into their own hands” after failing to get justice through legal avenues.
We have been told some victims of that home have said they will actively seek out the personal details of their abusers with the aim of setting up “face-to-face” meetings.
Hundreds of abuse victims from several institutions made statements to the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA) but many are distressed that no criminal prosecutions have been brought against anyone as a result – despite over 77 files being sent to the Public Prosecution Service (PPS).
Now a militant faction of a survivors group connected to the St Patrick’s boy home say some of their members plan to “c onfront” their abusers as a last-ditch resort.
One furious abuse survivor told the Sunday World: “Some survivors have simply had enough and are so angry they didn’t get justice through the legal route they are going to take matters into their own hands.
“They plan to target abusers from St Patrick’s (boy’s home) because they know the police and courts are not going to anything about what happened to them.
“Emotions are running high and it’s not difficult to imagine what could potentially happen. I have heard some even say they are prepared to go to jail and that they’d rather go to prison than see their abusers go to their grave without ever facing justice.
“It’s sad it has come to this but it’s the fault of the government and the religious orders and institutions themselves.”
It’s understood the same group were responsible for a number of attacks on the Kincora Boy’s home in east Belfast in the last few years having already torched the St Patrick’s Boys home itself in 2019.
We were contacted by former residents of St. Patrick’s concerned some of their members had “had enough” of trying to get justice legally.
There has been widespread criticism of the HIA’s Redress Board which was tasked with dealing with applications for compensation for those who experienced abuse in residential institutions in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995.
Victims from several groups say the Redress Board process is flawed and hundreds of people have been refused compensation while the institutions and religious orders have fought against paying out.
The move has come after a review report into the redress process that was only confidentially disclosed two weeks ago has left survivors up-in-arms because it failed to recommend changes to the process.
Last night a source close St Patrick’s told the Sunday World: “Some survivors from St Patrick’s are other institutions have been left devastated, not just by the Redress process, but by the lack of prosecutions or even arrests of those named by survivors who were guilty of abuse.
“Survivors opened up and told the inquiry about the terrible abuse they suffered and they named names so to see nobody prosecuted is a further kick in the teeth.
“Since the formation of the St Patrick’s group almost 20 years ago we have directed the group down the path of legal actions to bring conclusion to individuals' own personal fights for justice and for some sort of closure for the abuse that we all suffered at the hands of the government and the religious organisations.
“It seems that direction has turned out to be the wrong course of action to take as it neither achieved justice or closure for survivors.
“Now we are concerned because we know of some members who have decided to take action into their own hands.
“Some members say they are prepared to confront their abusers. Many of those abusers are elderly and in care homes so some survivors feel the roles will have been reversed because it they who were vulnerable in a home when they were treated badly.”
The HIA inquiry, which published its report in January 2017, exposed serious sexual, physical and emotional abuse over decades at children's homes run by religious orders, charities and the state.
After the inquiry a Redress Board was set-up to handle claims of compensation but has faced criticism.
Much of that criticism centres around the appeals process which doesn’t permit an appeal in person as well as victims’ groups wanting a “common experience” payment for people who lived in the institutions but were not directly abused.
“The HIA Redress Board process began in March 2020 and to date almost 350 survivors have had their cases rejected and have received zero awards,” says the source.
“In March 2021 it was revealed by Amnesty International that there were zero prosecutions from the HIA inquiry despite at that point despite almost two hundred statements having been made to police.
“The review report into the failure of the HIA redress process that was only confidentially disclosed in June 2022 by Supporting Justice has totally failed to support any justice or closure for survivors of institutional abuse as they failed to recommend a common experience payment therefore giving the HIA redress process the green light to continue to provide survivors with zero awards.”
And the sources says they feel particularly frustrated by some of the institutions and the government.
“Civil cases taken by survivors of childhood abuse continues to be fought tooth and nail by the government and religious organisation,” said the St Pat’s survivor.
“This not only denies survivors justice and closure but also shows that the HIA apology that was given by the government and religious organisations in March of this year to be totally fraudulent and insincere and without any foundation.
“As a result, some Saint Patricks Survivors are instantly and permanently withdrawing their engagement with the legal process.”