A PUBLIC apology is to be offered to victims and survivors of historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland on 11 March.
In a joint statement today, DUP's Michelle McIlveen, Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy, the SDLP's Nichola Mallon, the UUP's Robin Swan and Alliance's Naomi Long made the announcement "following engagement with victims' and survivors' groups".
"This will be a hugely significant day," they said. "Victims and survivors have waited too long to hear an apology for the awful harm that was inflicted on them as children, and in the years since.
"We want this apology to provide full acknowledgment of the wrong that was done, and the terrible failures that resulted in the abuse of children by the individuals and a system that should have protected them."
They said they recognise the experience every victim and survivor has is individual and each have personal views on what they want to be included.
"We are listening to them and working to ensure the apology is developed in line with what they need to hear."
The apology will be made in the Assembly Chamber of Parliament Buildings, a symbolic venue for victims and survivors.
As many victims and survivors as possible will be present on the day, with arrangements to be put in place in other regional venues for those who wish to come together to hear the apology. It will also be live streamed online for all those who wish to watch from home or across the world.
A minute's silence will also be held for those victims who have passed away before being able to hear the apology.
The 2017 Hart Report by Sir Anthony Hart who chaired the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, recommended that an apology be issued by government.
The inquiry was set up to examine allegations of abuse and mistreatment at 22 institutions between 1922 and 1995, and found abuse at children’s homes run by religious orders, charities and the state. It also recommended compensation for survivors.
"As Ministers, we will deliver the apology on behalf of government," the statement continued.
"This will be followed by apologies from each of the institutions where systemic failings were found in the Hart Report.
"While victims and survivors have waited far too long for an apology, 11 March will be a very difficult and emotional day for many. We understand the need to approach this apology with respect and sensitivity. We are working with the Victims and Survivors Service to ensure that support is available. Anyone who needs support can contact the Victims and Survivors Service on 028 9031 1678."