Abuse protesters gather at royal garden party venue

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Protesters gather outside Castle Coole in Enniskillen (Joe Giddens/PA)

A small group of protesters attempted to peacefully enter the National Trust stately home where Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley hosted the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall for a garden party.

They gathered outside Castle Coole on the outskirts of Enniskillen in Co Fermanagh with a banner urging redress for child victims of clerical abuse in residential homes overseen by the state.

The Prince of Wales meeting Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley
The Prince of Wales meeting Northern Ireland Secretary Karen Bradley at the garden party (Liam McBurney/PA)

The demonstrators have been angered by delays to compensation which was recommended following a public inquiry more than two years ago but not acted on due to the collapse of political powersharing.

Victim Kate Walmsley said: “The only thing I want compensation for is I want to buy a grave.

“I want to buy a grave that I can be buried in next to my friend Margaret McGuckin.”

Royal visit to Northern Ireland – Day One
Protesters including Margaret McGuckin from SAVIA lobby group (centre) gather outside the garden party (Joe Giddens/PA)

She added: “Her boys and my two boys, they would be able to meet each other and they would be able to look after our graves.

“So we could have a headstone and a coffin. I even said she can stick her dog’s ashes in with me.”

She said she was subjected to abuse at a home run by the Sisters of Nazareth nuns in Londonderry and gave evidence to a public inquiry led by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart.

Royal party guests
Invited guest await the arrival of the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall (Liam McBurney/PA)

Sir Anthony recommended compensation payments of up to £10,000 but the collapse of Stormont meant nothing happened.

Victims met Mrs Bradley at Stormont on Monday and are angry that extra questions have been inserted into the process before Westminster legislation can be drawn up implementing Sir Anthony’s instructions.

A small group travelled to Fermanagh in the far west to reinforce their message, supported by local politicians.

Ms Walmsley said: “I am just 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.

Arlene Foster
DUP leader Arlene Foster at the garden party (Liam McBurney/PA)

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

Ms McGuckin claimed the Northern Ireland Secretary had passed the buck for the delay to compensation and blamed the civil service.

She added: “Many of our people are at death’s door and so many have passed away. Thirty people have died in this past two and a half years.

“We wished we had never started this, this is 11 years of campaigning, two and a half years after the Hart inquiry findings where we were vindicated.

“It has all fallen flat, nobody is getting anything, no support, we are all supporting each other and it is a disgrace on this Government that they are not doing anything.”