Witness breaks down recalling abuse in NI home

Woman cries while describing conversation with man who later killed himself

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


A witness to the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry has broken down as she recalled a conversation she had with another person who had been in care the day before he took his own life.

The witness, who wishes to remain anonymous, was taken into care at various times in the 1970s at St Joseph’s home at Termonbacca in Derry, run by the Poor Sisters of Nazareth.

She cried openly as she told Senior Counsel to the inquiry Christine Smith QC that the man whom she knew from her time at the home told her he had been raped after he had been transferred to another care home in Kircubben, Co Down.

“He came to see me the day before he hung himself,” she told the inquiry.

Recovering her composure she went on: “[HE] told me the day before he committed suicide that he had been anally raped in Rubane House.”

She said she told this to a social worker long after she left care.

The social worker, she told the inquiry, was the same person who had driven the man to the care home in Kircubben not knowing of the abuse that was allegedly taking place there.

Earlier, the witness told Ms Smith she only had dark memories of her times in Termonbacca.

“I just think of all the abuse we were put through,” she said. “We were never told we had a voice, that we were loved.”

Children should not be reared “as if they were less than nothing,” she added.

The witness said she had received beatings, had been force fed and regularly verbally abused. She said she was constantly scapegoated by nuns on account of three occasions when she had stolen sweets.

She further alleged that a named nun had used a scrubbing brush on her in the bath and told her she was “a dirty wee bitch - look at the state of you”.

She was told by Ms Smith a statement from the nun denied knowledge of beatings and a further statement from another child in care also contradicted these claims.

The witness alleged the child in question was the nuns’ favourite and he would not have been subject to similar abuses as others were.

Rejecting the nun’s claims that no beatings were carried out, the witness said: “I have different memories and she did slap us. She definitely slapped my brother really hard every morning when he wet the bed.”