Care Groups Use Child Abuse Inquiry Hearing To Apologise To Victims

31 May 2017, 15:19 | Updated: 31 May 2017, 15:20

Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry starts

Scotland's national child abuse inquiry has heard a succession of apologies from organisations to survivors who say they were abused as youngsters in residential care.

Groups including Quarriers, Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, Sisters of Nazareth, De La Salle Brothers, the Bishops' Conference of Scotland and Crossreach, the social care arm of the Church of Scotland, were among those voicing regret for past cases of abuse or alleged abuse.

The apologies were offered in opening statements from a range of bodies as the public hearing phase of the far-reaching inquiry into historical allegations of the abuse of children in care in Scotland got under way.

It followed remarks from chairwoman Lady Smith who said the process will be ''painful'' for many, but necessary to achieve ''real, substantial and lasting change''.

In their opening remarks, representatives of Quarriers and the Marist Brothers offered ''unreserved'' apologies to anyone who was abused in their care.

Canon Boyle, representing the Bishops' Conference of Scotland, told the hearing in Edinburgh that Archbishop Philip Tartaglia had offered a ''profound'' apology in 2015 to those harmed as a result of the actions of anyone within the Catholic Church.

''That apology stands and is reiterated again today,'' Canon Boyle said.

He said there is ''an overwhelming sense of shame that these abhorrent crimes have occurred in the context of the church'', a sense felt by all Catholics.

Laura Dunlop QC, representing Crossreach, said it was ''inescapable'' that the Church has provided a setting in which children have been abused in the past.

She said: ''That is a matter of profound regret by all associated with the church's social care organisation and indeed for all connected to the church in Scotland in any way.''

She added: ''The Church... offers a heartfelt apology to all who have suffered in its care.''

Gregor Rolfe, representing the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, said it is ''horrified'' by allegations of abuse made by children formerly in its care and offered its ''deepest sympathy and heartfelt apology'' to any former resident who felt ''let down'' by those entrusted with their care.

Representing the Sisters of Nazareth, Alistair Dunlop QC told the hearing: ''Suffice to say that where abuse has occurred, the sisters apologise unreservedly.''

The spokesman for the De La Salle Brothers, David Anderson, said nothing could be said to defend the mistreatment of children.

''Where a brother at any of these schools was responsible for the mistreatment of a child or young adult entrusted to the congregation's care, the congregation offers an unreserved apology,'' he said.

The hearing was also told that the Good Shepherd Sisters ''deplore'' that physical or sexual abuse could occur, while the Christian Brothers expressed their ''continuing deep regret'' serious sexual and physical abuse took place at St Ninian's residential school in Falkland.