Regime at Derry children's home like 'being reared by the Taliban'

Wednesday 29 January 2014 23.45
Sir Anthony Hart with Panel member Geraldine Doherty at the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry
Sir Anthony Hart with Panel member Geraldine Doherty at the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry

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, Derry, 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 b*****ds. 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 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.

Keywords: northern ireland