YP Comment: Abuse inquiry failing victims - Justice must be put first

The child abuse inquiry has been heavily criticised. (PA).
The child abuse inquiry has been heavily criticised. (PA).
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NEVER before has a public inquiry been so beset by crisis than the investigation into historic sexual abuse of children.

The resignations of three chairs, followed by a wave of senior counsel, and now the withdrawal of a survivors’ group representing 600 victims of abuse have left this most important of inquiries mired in difficulties.

Two years on from it being established by Theresa May, then Home Secretary, the inquiry appears to be making no progress whatsoever beyond staggering from one episode of internal strife to another as costs mount up relentlessly.

That would be bad enough if this were a dry academic exercise. But it is not. This inquiry is about horrific criminal offences committed against children and how that abuse was either ignored, or infinitely worse, shielded by institutions of the state.

Unimaginable suffering and wrecked lives lie at the heart of the inquiry, and there is a real danger of that being overlooked amid the seemingly unending wrangling.

There is also a risk that the victims who had such high hopes of the inquiry laying bare the truth and extent of abuse in Britain will lose confidence in it. That must be avoided, since it would only compound what they have already suffered.

What has become increasingly apparent is that the scope of the inquiry was flawed from the start. There is no doubt that Mrs May announced it with the most honourable of intentions, but its form was badly thought through.

It has proved too big and unwieldy, and the time has come for a rethink, possibly to break it down into separate, more manageable sections which can deliver results.

Urgent progress now needs to be made, because crises and internal arguments must no longer be allowed to deny victims the justice they have long deserved.

Costly country - Priced out of rural living

ESCAPING to the country is a dream for many people, but the spiralling cost of buying a home there has worrying implications for the nature of rural life.

The high cost of living in the countryside as laid bare by the Halifax not only underlines how expensive it has become, but also raises issues about the future of communities.

Yorkshire is one of the most expensive places to leave towns and cities behind. The consequences go to the heart of what makes rural communities tick.

The statistics point to the countryside being at risk of becoming somewhere only the relatively wealthy can afford to live. They also re-emphasise the difficulties faced by first-time buyers. The young are already struggling to get a foothold on the property ladder in urban areas as prices rise faster than wages, and the countryside looks increasingly out of reach.

There are rural areas of Yorkshire that have already seen people born there effectively forced to move away because they cannot afford houses, or where the principal market for empty properties is as second homes which remain unoccupied for large parts of the year.

This can affect the cohesion of communities, hollowing out the close-knit nature of villages and affecting the trade needed to keep valued local shops open.

The threat posed to these rural villages by rising prices is an overlooked consequence of the general increase in housing costs.

There are no easy answers, but if our countryside is to truly thrive and be sustainable in the long run, then people need to be able to afford to live there.

Never forget - Honouring Yorkshire’s heroes

A POIGNANT service of remembrance in France yesterday marked an anniversary with particular resonance for Yorkshire.

It commemorated the final day of the Battle of the Somme in 1916, which had begun with the terrible suffering of Yorkshire’s volunteer battalions on July 1, when they were the first British troops into battle and decimated.

There were survivors of those battalions still fighting 141 days later, when one of the bloodiest struggles of the Great War finally drew to a close, and it was fitting that the memory of all the troops involved was honoured yesterday.

The volunteers of Barnsley, Bradford, Hull, Leeds and Sheffield, the Pals battalions who are so inextricably linked with the Somme must never be forgotten, because their fate sums up the horrors of war.

To commemorate them in this way, on an anniversary too often overlooked in the past, was a moving and thoughtful act reminding us once more of their bravery and sacrifice.