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  1. ITV Report

Abuse victims’ groups hold protest at royal garden party

The protest held outside Castle Coole, on the outskirts of Enniskillen in Co Fermanagh. Credit: UTV

A protest over continued delays in compensating victims of historical institutional abuse has been held outside the first royal garden party to be held in Co Fermanagh.

Tuesday’s event, attended by Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall, was being hosted by Northern Ireland Secretary of State Karen Bradley.

Protestors gathered at the gates of Castle Coole, on the outskirts of Enniskillen, as she arrived in an official vehicle with blacked-out windows.

Their banner urged redress for child victims of abuse in residential homes overseen by the state.

The demonstration came less than 24 hours after several groups representing survivors and victims took part in a private meeting with Mrs Bradley.

But they remain angered by the lack of action.

One woman - Kate Walmsley, who was subjected to abuse at a home run by the Sisters of Nazareth in Londonderry – said: “I’m annoyed with Karen Bradley that she has given out the wrong signals.

“She is giving a signal to the world that it is okay to sexually abuse children because nobody does nothing about it.

“You won't get justice anyway, so don't bother - and I think it is very sad that she would do that.”

Sir Anthony Hart’s inquiry into historical institutional abuse published its recommendations in 2017, including payments of up to £10,000 - but the collapse of Stormont meant nothing happened.

Two years later, a document containing final responses from the Executive Office on the HIA consultation process - seen by UTV - has fuelled fears that, without emergency legislation, victims may have to wait longer still for compensation.

According to the document’s blunt assessment, it is likely “that it will be at least another one to two years before the Redress Board (recommended within the HIA report) is operational”.