“Child abuse inquiry: Priest told boy he was ‘product of evil and satanic relationship'” & related articles

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The Belfast Telegraph

29 January 2014

The site of the  former St Joseph's Home, Termonbacca

The site of the former St Joseph’s Home, Termonbacca

A priest told a former resident of a church-run children’s home in Northern Ireland that he was the product of an evil and satanic relationship, an inquiry has heard.

The son of an unmarried mother said he became a zombie, introverted and fearing the next beating, lying soaked in urine at night in an attempt to dissuade any sexual abusers from “dropping the hand”.

He was a resident at St Joseph’s in Termonbacca, Londonderry, run by the Sisters of Nazareth order of nuns, in the 1950s and complained about his treatment to a priest after leaving the home.

The response was: “You must never speak about this, you must understand… you and the other orphans are bastards. You are the product of an evil and satanic relationship. You never had a chance.”

The witness said: “That was the day I left the Catholic Church.”

The treatment of children in church-run residential homes is a key concern of the investigation being held in Banbridge, Co Down. It is chaired by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart and is considering cases in 13 residential institutions between 1922, the foundation of Northern Ireland, and 1995.

The witness said: “The truth is setting me free today more than this Commission knows. I have come here to tell the truth and as I am reaching out, I am reaching out in healing and trying to forgive but at this moment I cannot.

“I have waited 65 years to say this. When I was reared by the Sisters of the Congregation of Nazareth it was equivalent to being reared by the Taliban, such was their sadism, their lack of empathy, their fundamentalism, their lack of dignity to the little helpless boy.”

He ran away and was recovered time after time.

One nun smirked and said: “Welcome back, your majesty,” the witness said.

“Then the beatings would start.”

Public hearings are due to finish in June 2015, with the inquiry team to report to Stormont’s power-sharing Executive by the start of 2016.

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Historical Abuse Inquiry hears Sisters of Nazareth nuns ‘were almost psychotic’

28 January 2014

Termonbacca

St Joseph’s Home, Termonbacca, was run by the Sisters of Nazareth order of nuns

Nuns’ treatment of children at a residential care home was “bordering on the psychotic”, Northern Ireland’s Historical Abuse Inquiry has been told.

Sisters of Nazareth nuns thumped and kicked children at Termonbacca, the first witness to give evidence said.

The former resident described the home as a “hell-hole” and likened it to a concentration camp.

He said children were forced to clean floors in a chain, with their arms linked and rags under both feet.

The inquiry is investigating abuse claims against children’s residential institutions from 1922 to 1995.

The witness said he was once sexually abused by a woman at the home, although he could not recall if it was a nun or a civilian worker.

The Sisters of Nazareth order of nuns ran two homes in Londonderry, Nazareth House Children’s Home and St Joseph’s Home, Termonbacca.

At the start of the inquiry earlier this month, a lawyer representing the nuns read out an apology for the abuse suffered by children in their homes.

The witness said on Tuesday that this apology had “left him numb”.

Later, a second resident of Termonbacca said he was beaten by older boys at the home.

“I thought I was going to die – it was torture to face another day,” he said.

He thanked the inquiry for reuniting him with his siblings for the first time in 40 years.

A third witness, a man who is now 74, told the inquiry that he remembers being beaten every day and wetting the bed every night.

He said the children who wet the bed were forced to strip naked and made to stand in a queue to have a bath in Jeyes Fluid.

He broke down as he described how the nuns had gallon drums with Jeyes Fluid that would sting their skin and eyes.

He said it was not too bad if you were first in, but it got topped as each child got into the bath – all being bathed in the same water.

The Derry homes are among a total of 13 residential institutions currently under investigation by the inquiry.

Some of them were run by state authorities, others by voluntary organisations and the remainder were operated by the Catholic Church.

To date, 434 people have contacted the inquiry to allege they were abused as children.

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Sisters of Nazareth evidence ‘haphazard and piecemeal’

BBC Northern Ireland

27 January 2014

Aerial shot of HIA inquiry hearing

The HIA inquiry is holding its public hearings in Banbridge, County Down

Sisters of Nazareth nuns have given their evidence to Northern Ireland’s Historical Abuse Inquiry in a “haphazard and piecemeal fashion”, the inquiry has been told.

The inquiry is investigating abuse claims against children’s residential institutions from 1922 to 1995.

Nazareth House Children’s Home and St Joseph’s Home, Termonbacca, were both run by the Sisters of Nazareth.

The inquiry has received statements from 49 ex-residents of the two homes.

Sexual and physical abuse was outlined during Monday’s hearing, including children being made to eat their own vomit, being beaten for bed-wetting and being bathed in Jeyes’ Fluid.

The inquiry was told that some statements from the nuns came as late as last Friday.

This was despite the initial request for documents being made in November 2012.

The inquiry’s senior barrister, Christine Smith QC, welcomed the apology the nuns made at the hearing earlier this month.

Physical assaults

However, she added: “This less than wholehearted and rapid response on the part of the congregation has caused considerable difficulties to the work of the inquiry.

“The congregation is not the only body whose approach has produced problems.

“We do appreciate that this is not always avoidable but we hoped that such late delivery could have been avoided, given the difficulties which it causes for the inquiry.”

Ms Smith outlined details of the alleged abuse, which included physical assaults using sticks, straps and kettle flexes.

Others involved:

  • Bathing in Jeyes’ Fluid disinfectant, today more associated with outdoor cleaning jobs like clearing drains.
  • Bullying by their peers.
  • Separation of brothers and sisters, not even telling them if they were in the same home.
  • Locking in cupboards or threatening to send them to a hospital for those with learning disabilities at Muckamore Abbey in Antrim.
  • Humiliating children for bed wetting, forcing them to stand with the sheets on their heads and beating them as punishment.
  • Forced farm labouring or working in the laundry instead of going to school.
  • Removal of Christmas presents and other personal items.
  • Calling children by numbers rather than names.
  • Leaving youngsters hungry through inadequate food or alternately force feeding.
  • Some people who contacted the inquiry claimed when they were ill they were forced to eat their own vomit.
  • Inadequate staffing and supervision and lack of medical attention.
  • Lack of contact with social workers – until the 1960s children were often sent to homes on the recommendation of doctors or clerics and the state was not involved in providing social care.

Public hearings began with opening statements on 13 January, but the first evidence is being heard on Monday.

Apologies

The Derry homes are among a total of 13 residential institutions currently under investigation by the inquiry.

Some of them were run by state authorities, others by voluntary organisations and the remainder were operated by the Catholic Church.

To date, 434 people have contacted the inquiry to allege they were abused as children.

On 14 January, the day after the inquiry’s public sessions began in Banbridge, County Down, the nuns were among two Catholic orders who issued apologies for the abuse suffered by children in their residential homes.

‘Sorry’

The apologies were read out at the inquiry by lawyers representing the Sisters of Nazareth and the De La Salle Brothers.

A representatives of Northern Ireland’s Health and Social Care Board also said that if the state had failed in any way it was sorry.

The inquiry is chaired by retired High Court judge Sir Anthony Hart.

It does not have the power to find anyone guilty of a criminal offence, but if it does uncover evidence of criminality, the details will be reported to the police.

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Children at Derry care homes were made to eat vomit, inquiry told

Counsel outlines allegations made by ex-residents of Nazareth House and St Joseph’s Home, run by Sisters of Nazareth nuns

The Guardian

Monday 27 January 2014 18.28 GMT

, Ireland correspondent

 

Christine Smith

Christine Smith QC, senior counsel for the historic institutional abuse inquiry. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA

 

 

Children were forced to eat their own vomit and bathe in disinfectant at residential care homes run by nuns, the UK’s largest public inquiry into institutional child abuse was told on Monday.

During evidence on the behaviour of nuns from the Sisters of Nazareth order at two Catholic church-run children’s homes in Derry, the inquiry heard that children were beaten for bedwetting and had soiled sheets placed on their heads to humiliate them.

Nazareth House children’s home and St Joseph’s Home, Termonbacca, were both run by the Sisters of Nazareth in Derry. Forty-nine ex-residents of the two homes gave evidence about their treatment in written and oral testimony to the historic institutional abuse inquiry sitting at Banbridge courthouse.

A total of 16 church- and state-run orphanages, care homes and other institutions in Northern Ireland are under scrutiny in a public inquiry expected to last until June 2015.

Young people at Sisters of Nazareth properties in Derry were known by numbers rather than their names, and many were allegedly subjected to humiliation, threats and physical abuse, said Christine Smith QC, senior counsel for the inquiry.

Outlining the nature of the allegations, Smith told the inquiry that as well as making children eat vomit when they were ill, nuns used sticks, straps and kettle flexes to beat their young charges. The nuns removed Christmas presents from some children as punishments, Smith said.

She said those who had given testimony also accused the nuns of locking them in cupboards and threatening to transfer them to an adult mental hospital at Muckamore Abbey. in Co Antrim, if they did not conform.

Rather than sending the children to school, the Sisters of Nazareth sent them out to work on farms or in the home’s laundry, Smith said. She said allegations also included sexual abuse by older children, visiting priests, employees and in one instance a nun.

A senior member of the order made a submission to the inquiry acknowledging that an individual sister or common staff member, having worked long hours with children from troubled backgrounds, may have lost her temper and acted inappropriately. She accepted there was scope for bullying because they could not keep eyes on all the children.

“The sisters always tried to provide the best care with the staff and resources available to them.” She said they had little information to give the inquiry about sexual assaults but were extremely upset about them.

At Nazareth House in 1996, a sexual abuse allegation was raised with police. “Police advised the home in 1997 that a prosecution would not be made,” Smith said. In August 1997 a further allegation of abuse against the same person was made by two people. The individual was subsequently dismissed.

The treatment of children in church-run residential homes is a key concern of the investigation, which is chaired by the retired judge Sir Anthony Hart and is considering cases between 1922 – when Northern Ireland was founded – and 1995.

Smith said the nuns who ran the homes in Derry had provided only “haphazard and piecemeal” evidence to the inquiry thus far. She said their apology to the hearing this month was “less than wholehearted and rapid”, and their “response on the part of the congregation has caused considerable difficulties to the work of the inquiry”.

She added: “The congregation is not the only body whose approach has produced problems. We do appreciate that this is not always avoidable but we hoped that such late delivery could have been avoided, given the difficulties which it causes for the inquiry.”

Those allegedly abused at the homes will give evidence later this week.

The inquiry heard evidence that the unionist-dominated Northern Ireland government in the 1950s may have known about the conditions in the Derry homes.

Smith quoted from a 1953 report by Kathleen Forest, an inspector for the government’s home affairs department, who wrote: “I find these homes utterly depressing and it appals me to think that these hundreds of children are being reared in bleak lovelessness.”

Two weeks ago the Sisters of Nazareth became the first religious order to apologise for the way children were treated in their care. The Catholic order De La Salle Brothers, which also ran a number of children’s homes, also apologised and accepted there was abuse in their institutions.

A representatives of Northern Ireland’s health and social care board said that if the state had failed in any way, it was sorry.

The inquiry which is expected to cost up to £19m, does not have the power to find anyone guilty of a criminal offence. However, if the tribunal does unearth evidence of any crimes committed, this material can be passed on to the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

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NI abuse inquiry: Two Catholic orders apologise

BBC Norther Ireland

14 January 2014

Inquiry hearing

Hundreds of witnesses will give evidence to the inquiry

Two religious orders in the Catholic Church have apologised for the abuse suffered by children in their residential homes.

The comments were made on the second day of the inquiry into historical abuse in 13 Northern Ireland care homes and borstals between 1922 and 1995.

Lawyers for De La Salle Brothers and Sisters of Nazareth made the apologies.

The Health and Social Care Board also said that if the state had failed in any way it was sorry.

A barrister representing De La Salle Brothers offered their “sincere and unreserved apology” for the abuse at its home in Kircubbin, County Down.

The QC said the Brothers “deeply regret that boys in their care were abused”.

He said their mission was to look after the welfare of vulnerable and deprived children, and the abuse by some Brothers “was in contradiction to their vocation.

“They recognise that there have been failures to protect the victims,” he said.

“This inquiry represents perhaps the last opportunity to establish what exactly occurred during the operation of the homes.”

The inquiry also heard admissions made on behalf of the Sisters of Nazareth order of nuns.

A barrister representing them said they “recognise the hurt that’s been caused to some children in their care”.

“They apologise unreservedly for any abuse suffered by children in their care. They go forward hoping that lessons will be learned, not just by them in the provision of care, but also by carers generally in society and in wider society at large.”

‘Bygone age’

A barrister for the Health and Social Care Board said that where it had failed to meet acceptable standards, it offered its apologies to those involved.

Christine Smith

Christine Smith QC outlined the context in which institutional care in Northern Ireland had operated

Earlier, it was told that some children’s homes in Northern Ireland in the 1960s were relics of a bygone era.

Post-war welfare reforms were not adopted by some institutions, the senior counsel to the panel said.

“The evidence suggests that those homes operated as outdated survivors of a bygone age,” said Christine Smith QC.

Outlining the context of institutional care in Northern Ireland, she said the status of children historically could be illustrated by the fact that while the RSPCA was set up in 1824, the NSPCC was not set up for another 60 years.

The barrister told the inquiry of one submission received by a woman who had been in care between 1971 and 1976.

She detailed how after wetting her bed, she had her nose rubbed in it, before being stripped, left in a cold room and then forced to wash in cold water and disinfectant.

The biggest ever public inquiry into child abuse ever held in the UK is investigating claims of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, as well as childhood neglect.

The public hearings stage of the inquiry, which began on Monday, is being held in Banbridge, County Down, and is expected to last for 18 months.

The inquiry’s remit is limited to children’s residential institutions in Northern Ireland.

During that time, it is due to hear evidence from more than 300 witnesses, including former residents who claim they were abused as children, the people who ran the institutions, health and social care officials and government representatives.

The inquiry’s remit is limited to children’s residential institutions in Northern Ireland.

To date, 434 people have contacted the inquiry to allege they were abused.

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Inquiry into abuse in NI children’s homes and borstals begins

BBC Northern Ireland

13 January 2014

Sir Anthony Hart

Sir Anthony Hart said victims could feel satisfied their experiences were being listened to

Victims have waited years to tell their stories, senior counsel to the biggest public inquiry into child abuse ever held in the UK has said.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA) is examining abuse claims in Northern Ireland children’s homes and juvenile justice.

It was set up by Northern Ireland’s power-sharing executive to investigate allegations dating from 1922 to 1995.

To date, 434 people have contacted the inquiry to allege they were abused.

It is investigating claims of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, as well as childhood neglect.

The senior counsel to the inquiry, Christine Smith, said many victims of abuse “have waited years for this day to come”.

“This inquiry, both through the work of the acknowledgement forum and these public hearings, is giving a voice to those who feel the system let them down,” Ms Smith said.

She said it was “a human story about how a society treated its most vulnerable members – its children”.

“By examining how vulnerable children living in children’s homes between 1922 and 1995 were treated, this inquiry will examine the soul of Northern Ireland in that period,” she added.

Ms Smith said “abuse in childhood leaves a legacy which can destroy their adulthood as well”.

She said one of those who contacted the inquiry said: “Those who suffered abuse were deprived of a normal childhood and haven’t been normal since.”

‘Experiences listened to’

Christine Smith said the inquiry will ‘give a voice to those who feel the system let them down’

In his opening remarks, the chairman of the inquiry, Sir Anthony Hart, said it would try to establish if abuse in children’s homes was systemic.

He said he hoped those who had given evidence to the inquiry “will have the satisfaction of knowing that their experiences are being listened to and investigated”.

Sir Anthony said many of the witnesses had told the inquiry that when they made complaints in the past they had been ignored.

He said where the inquiry believes criminal offences have taken place it will pass the evidence onto the police.

If prosecutions are imminent, evidence relating to them will be aired in closed sessions of the inquiry so as not to prejudice trials, Sir Anthony said.

The inquiry will also speak to 61 child migrants who were sent to Australia on how they were treated before they left Northern Ireland.

Personal stories

Kate Walmsley: “I just needed someone to ask me why was I not happy”

The public hearings stage of the inquiry is being held in Banbridge, County Down, and is expected to last for 18 months.

During that time, it is due to hear evidence from more than 300 witnesses, including former residents who claim they were abused as children, the people who ran the institutions, health and social care officials and government representatives.

The inquiry’s remit is limited to children’s residential institutions in Northern Ireland.

So far, it is examining claims against 13 children’s homes and borstals.

Some of the institutions were run by state authorities, others were staffed by voluntary organisations and the remainder were run by the Catholic Church.

Since October 2012, the inquiry has been taking evidence in private sessions from former residents who claim they were abused.

People making abuse allegations were asked to tell their personal stories to the inquiry’s Acknowledgement Forum and those called to give evidence in public will be offered anonymity.

Legal powers

Of the 434 people who have made a formal application to speak to the inquiry, the majority still live in Northern Ireland.

About a third of the applications are from people who are now living elsewhere, including Australia, Great Britain, the Republic of Ireland and other countries.

To date, 263 people have met members of the Acknowledgement Forum to have their allegations recorded.

The HIA inquiry is independent of government and has the power to compel witnesses to give evidence.

It does not have the legal authority to find anyone guilty of criminal acts, but where it does receive evidence that a crime has taken place, the details will be passed to police.

The public hearings opened at Banbridge Courthouse in County Down on Monday afternoon, when the chairman, retired judge Sir Anthony Hart, delivered an opening address.

Over the next three days, the inquiry’s legal team is due to provide a general overview, outlining the proceedings and the issues they are expected to address.

When the opening remarks are complete, the first stage of public hearings will concentrate on allegations made against two Catholic children’s homes in Londonderry

Nazareth House Children’s Home in Bishop Street and St Joseph’s Home in Termonbacca were both run by the same order of nuns – the Sisters of Nazareth.

The public hearings are due to finish in June 2015, and the inquiry team has been given a further six months to report its findings to the Stormont Executive.

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HIA abuse inquiry – the numbers

434 people have made formal applications to speak to the inquiry

300+ witnesses are expected to testify during the public hearings

263 alleged victims have already given statements to the inquiry’s acknowledgement forum

13 residential institutions are currently under investigation by the inquiry team

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Institutions under investigation

Local authority homes:

• Lissue Children’s Unit, Lisburn

• Kincora Boys’ Home, Belfast

• Bawnmore Children’s Home, Newtownabbey

Juvenile justice institutions:

• St Patrick’s Training School, Belfast

• Lisnevin Training School, County Down

• Rathgael Training School, Bangor

Secular voluntary homes:

• Barnardo’s Sharonmore Project, Newtownabbey

• Barnardo’s Macedon, Newtownabbey

Catholic Church-run homes:

• St Joseph’s Home, Termonbacca, Londonderry

• Nazareth House Children’s Home, Derry

• Nazareth House Children’s Home, Belfast

• Nazareth Lodge Children’s Home, Belfast

• De La Salle Boys’ Home, Kircubbin, County Down

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