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McConnell in row over Quarrier's - victims reject his apology

By Ewan Fergus, Greenock Telegraph, 02/12/2004

FIRST Minister Jack McConnell's apology to victims of abuse in Quarrier's Village on behalf of the people of Scotland is "not good enough" say campaigners.

Victims of the 1970s abuse scandal are disappointed their campaign for a full public enquiry into systematic abuse at Quarrier's has been sidestepped by Mr McConnell.

David Whelan, a member of In-care Abused Survivors, the group campaigning for the inquiry said: "We welcome Mr McConnell's apology but only with the caveat that we have a full judicial enquiry into what went on.

"We need a judicial enquiry to get all the facts and have access to police investigations, and find out how the people involved in the abuse were allowed to keep their jobs. We will keep up the fight to get what we want. This is only the beginning."

One 43-year-old victim of the abuse at Quarrier's, who still lives in Inverclyde, said: "It's not good enough for McConnell just to apologise. We want a public inquiry into what went on. Everybody wants and deserves the truth."

Speaking in Parliament yesterday the First Minister offered a "sincere and full apology" to children who were abused while in care.

He told the parliament it was clear that children had suffered physical, emotional and sexual abuse in the very places they had hoped to find love, care and protection.

But the education minister Peter Peacock has already ruled out an inquiry into allegations of abuse in Scotland's residential homes dating back to the 1940s, saying existing court cases made a judicial enquiry impossible.

Across Scotland, 1000 people have come forward alleging abuse in children's homes.

A public petition demanding answers was expected to prompt a full enquiry after the petitions committee referred the matter to a full sitting of the Scottish Parliament.

In a statement, the Chief Executive of Quarriers, Phil Robinson said: "Quarriers today is a very different organisation from that which once existed.

"If the Scottish Parliament had decided to launch a public enquiry into historic child abuse, Quarriers would have cooperated fully."

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