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Care home abuse victims fight on for probe

by Deborah Anderson, Evening Times, 02/12/2004

VICTIMS of abuse in Scotland's children's homes today maintained their call for a full public inquiry after Jack McConnell publicly apologised to them on behalf of the nation.

The victims have been campaigning for a judicial inquiry into the raft of issues, including original police inquiries into abuse allegations.

While Mr McConnell's apology in the Scottish Parliament was welcomed by victims, they said a further investigation was still needed.

In later editions yesterday, the Evening Times reported how Mr McConnell said the abuse of vulnerable young people was "deplorable, unacceptable and inexcusable".

The Executive announced several measures, including a review of how institutions were regulated during the years of the allegations.

The moves came as MSPs debated the first petition to go before the full parliament, which calls for a public inquiry and an apology from the state and religious orders.

David Whelan, of In Care Abuse Survivors, said they accepted Mr McConnell's apology, but the measures announced did not go far enough.

Mr Whelan said: "We still need a judicial inquiry that can look into all issues, including the original police inquiries because these were at the root."

Chris Daly, who alleged he was abused by nuns while in care in Aberdeen when aged eight, took the petition to Holyrood.

Mr Daly said: "An apology is a huge leap forward from where we were six months ago. "I hope all the institutions involved will do the same and apologise unconditionally."

Peter Peacock, Minister for Children and Young People, has already ruled out an inquiry into allegations of abuse in Scotland's residential homes dating back to the 1940s.

But he said he intended to appoint someone with experience in this field to independently analyse what were the regulatory requirements of the time and what systems were in place.

He said the Executive would also make the relevant government files public from January once sensitive details about individuals were remove.

SNP Holyrood leader Nicola Sturgeon backed Mr McConnell’s statement.

She said: "The extent of the emotional, physical and sexual abuse suffered over the years by too many children in care homes is absolutely horrific."

She added: "It is right and essential that this horror is acknowledged."

Tory deputy leader Annabel Goldie voiced "profound" sympathy for the victims and called for an independent inquiry.

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