Inquiry hears allegations of rape and regular sexual abuse

Witness says she became a foster parent to prevent children enduring what she suffered

The Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry is sitting in Banbridge, Co Down,

The Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry is sitting in Banbridge, Co Down,

Tue, Mar 4, 2014, 14:05

A woman who was repeatedly physically abused at a Derry children’s home has said she was also raped while in care outside the institution.

The witness told the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry heard the claims from the woman who is now herself a foster parent. She told the inquiry panel she and her husband provided a home for children in care because she “didn’t want them to go through what I went through”.

The witness, who cannot be identified, cited regular beatings from a named nun who also showed bias against children who “did not tell her things”. The inquiry heard this nun also force-fed children who refused to east the institution’s porridge.

She said her and her siblings had to walk to school rather and were not brought there in a bus driven by the same nun because they were not among “her favourites”.

This nun was one “evil nun”, she said, “who would have knuckled you when she seen you”. Other nuns and most lay members of staff were good, “But this one sticks out the most.”

She added that the nun showed kinder behaviour during summer holidays in Co Donegal when there were no beatings.

Another witness supported allegations made that this nun gave a beating with a plastic curtain rail to three children who pretended to say Mass in the home’s chapel. The nun also washed out some children’s mouths with washing up liquid for bad language.

This witness also alleged that she suffered sexual abuse by other older boys who were residents at the Termonbacca home in Derry.

She alleged that the older boys regularly came into the bedroom at night and abused her. This happened about 10 times and possibly ever two or three weeks, she said.

She told the inquiry she was terrified but couldn’t tell the nun what had happened to her as it was “dirty”.

The witness gave details to the inquiry concerning one boy’s identity which were not included either in her witness statement to the inquiry or to the police. She said she did not include this information about the identity of the boy “because she did not want him to get into trouble”.

Senior Counsel to the inquiry Christine Smith QC read a statement to the inquiry submitted by the identified boy in which the alleged abuse was denied. Asked about this, the witness said: “He did, but I’ve no proof of it.”

She confirmed to the panel that she was abused by different boy but can only identify one of them.