The parliamentary inquiry began this week and ended with a focus on children: the Groningen Committee visits schools in the earthquake zone. My bedroom has three slits

The fourth week of public hearings for the Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry began and ended with a focus on children.

Persistently, spiritual advisor Melissa Dills told the Parliamentary Inquiry on Monday of her concerns about children who grew up in the quake zone. Because this is the group that lives in the earthquake zone longer than outside it. Who belongs that promises are not kept, that power does not listen. They lose faith in everything around them.”

While last week, with former ministers Henk Kamp and Jeroen Dijsselbloem, among others, it was primarily a matter of officials, Dills on Monday morning detailed the consequences of earthquakes, damage and reinforcement for the residents of the earthquake zone.

School visit

The inquiry was able to hear first-hand the results of those consequences for children on Friday in ‘t Zandt, Westeremden and Appingedam. Committee members visited schools there. “The committee believes it is important to include the voice of children who have grown up in the earthquake zone,” says committee member Steinke van der Graaf (Christinoni). But, as committee member Barbara Cattman (PvdA) says: “You can’t question kids.”

At primary school de Zandplaat in ‘t Zandt, primary school students are eager to talk about their experiences when the first nerves are over. The class mainly discussed earthquakes with committee members, says Dan (11). He has been waiting for ten years for the house he grew up in to be demolished and a new one to be built. “We have a lot of cracks. In my bedroom there are three. I’d like a new room. I often ask my parents how long that will be. I’m really sorry, I have to wait so long.”


These children have been exposed to earthquakes many times before. While one of the children asks them to read a book after the tremor to calm down, the other immediately goes to his parents. Some children have nightmares after the earthquake. Dan remembers well how he woke up in the evening to an earthquake a year and a half ago. “The whole bed was trembling. I was so shocked and went to my father.”

In addition to being able to tell their stories to panelists, they can also ask questions themselves. “Why are you still getting gas from Groningen, that’s the big question,” van der Graaf says. “They are very busy with it. Also with the situation in Ukraine and its consequences. They are very good at talking about it.”

After visiting schools in the earthquake zone, there will be no hearings next week due to Prinsjesdag. The committee will then resume the interrogations and is scheduled to continue for another three weeks full of discussions. The final report will be published in February. “What we heard today, we can include in our reporting,” Kathman says. Van der Graaf: “Children’s voice is the voice of the future.”

The role of the House of Representatives

It wasn’t just about the kids this week. Questions on Tuesday focused on the role of the House of Representatives. Three former MPs, all of whom had the Groningen file in their portfolio, were questioned to gain insight into Parliament’s role.

They all thought differently about it. Where Liesbeth van Tongeren (GroenLinks) immediately put on the robes and said the House itself had failed, Jan Vos (PvdA) thought the House played an important and good role. According to Voss, “Gas production would not have declined had it not been for the front formed by the House of Representatives.” Rene Legte (VVD) felt that the House of Representatives was not sufficiently informed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs at a crucial moment.

Severe criticism of the role of the House of Representatives came a day after that Former Representative (and former Member of Parliament) William Morlag (PvdA). The House is the highest authority in this country. Why couldn’t House make a difference for the better in Groningen? “The role of the House of Representatives must be closely examined,” he said on Wednesday morning.

Peter Schulting was last questioned by the commission on Wednesday this week. This former judge has been involved for four years – from start to finish – in the Soil Arbiter movement, where victims who have a dispute with NAM can go. Schulting said the NAM trained and deliberately interfered with the proceedings. He can “certainly remember the time when the Non-Aligned Movement asked to return to an issue.”

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