Panel on abuse agree an apology is required

DESIGNS for a memorial recognising historic failings within Jersey’s care system have been rejected by survivors of child abuse – but the group has ‘reached a consensus’ on how to proceed with a place of remembrance.

Cheyenne O’Connor organised a protest against the proposed child abuse memorial
Cheyenne O’Connor organised a protest against the proposed child abuse memorial

A Citizens’ Panel – made up of survivors and members of the wider public – has agreed the government should issue a permanent public apology and statement of failure, and that there should be a place to ‘remember and reflect on what happened’.

The group was formed in response to the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry’s report in 2017, which highlighted a series of failings in the Island’s care system which allowed decades of abuse to go uncovered. The panel originally recommended that a memorial be erected as part of a legacy project, and £200,000 was set aside.

Shortlisted designs for the artwork – to be constructed at the Weighbridge – were unveiled in October.

However, the plans sparked heated debate, with some Islanders arguing it could serve as a traumatic reminder for those who had suffered abuse. A petition calling for the decision to be reversed collected nearly 3,000 signatures, and a protest was held at the proposed site.

The panel says it has been working closely with other survivors, as well as paedophile hunter Cheyenne O’Connor – who organised the protest – and members are now in agreement regarding the new recommendations.

They say the place of remembrance should be both ‘accessible and avoidable’, that it should not be at the Weighbridge and that none of the previous designs should be used.

The panel added: ‘Members of the panel were distraught that their recommendations had caused other survivors such hurt.

‘We are pleased to announce that we have reached a consensus and a way forward on this vital issue.

‘As survivors, we have worked hard to listen to each other and find a way forward. We believe our path forward demonstrates unity and strength.

‘We hope others will support us in our journey to remember and remind.’

Children’s and Education Minister Scott Wickenden said: ‘I warmly welcome the progress which has been made by survivors and members of the Citizens’ Panel in re-imagining a way to remember and recognise all those who were failed by the care system.

‘I was pleased to meet survivors earlier this week and to have the opportunity to understand their careful deliberation in reaching an agreed way forward.’

He added: ‘I would like to extend my thanks to the group for their ongoing commitment to realising this important legacy recommendation made by the Care Inquiry.

‘I offer my full support as they work to realise their proposals, which I believe will respectfully acknowledge the need for a place to remember.’

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