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14th-Jan-2014 08:01 pm - NI abuse inquiry: Two Catholic orders apologise

BBC
14 Jan 2014

• See also: NI Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry



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.

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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"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.

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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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.

13th-Jan-2014 11:59 pm - Northern Ireland child abuse inquiry opens

Ex-judge leading inquiry calls on government and accused institutions to co-operate in fair and open way

Henry McDonald
Guardian
13 Jan 2014



Sir Anthony Hart, chair of the inquiry. (Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images)

A retired judge in charge of the biggest inquiry into child abuse in UK legal history has appealed for openness from the institutions in Northern Ireland where crimes against children allegedly took place.

Opening the public inquiry into 13 orphanages, young offender centres and other places where children were kept in care, Sir Anthony Hart said the government had to be open in its dealings with the tribunal.

"This may be a challenging process for everyone involved, but it is our hope that everybody, whether from government or from the institutions, who is requested to assist the inquiry will co-operate in a fair, open and wholehearted way so that this unique opportunity will not be wasted," Hart said at Banbridge courthouse where the hearings will take place.

He assured the more than 400 victims – 300 of whom will give personal testimony to the court – that they "will have the satisfaction of knowing that their experiences are being listened to and investigated".

Christine Smith, senior counsel for the inquiry, told the court: "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."

The inquiry will examine claims of sexual and physical abuse including at the Kincora boys' home in east Belfast, where a senior Orangeman and a number of loyalist extremists are alleged to have raped children.

The inquiry may also explore allegations that the security forces – both MI5 and RUC Special Branch – knew about abuse in Kincora, but failed to act against those responsible because many of the alleged abusers were state agents.

There will be written and oral testimony from 434 individuals. The inquiry will also investigate how 120 children from the institutions were sent to Australia as part of a child migration policy between 1947 and 1956.

The hearings are scheduled to continue to June 2015 and could cost up to £19m. Campaigners in Britain said they wanted the inquiry to extend to England and Wales.

Jonathan Wheeler, a lawyer and founding member of Stop Church Child Abuse, said: "The start of this inquiry will be a relief to the alleged victims, allowing them to take heart in the fact that a process intended to bring them justice is at last under way. Lessons must also be learned by the authorities and all those responsible for the care of young children to prevent this kind of abuse from ever happening again.

"We have been calling for a similar over-arching inquiry in England and Wales. The government has refused, but if Northern Ireland can tackle the issue why should survivors here be denied their say and the proper scrutiny of all they have suffered."
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