Children’s home workers deny abuse claims by residents

Ill-treatment and sexual abuse did not happen, Derry inquiry hears

Witnesses have vigorously denied allegations of ill-treatment made to the inquiry investigating children’s residential care homes.

Witnesses have vigorously denied allegations of ill-treatment made to the inquiry investigating children’s residential care homes.

Thu, Apr 10, 2014, 13:53

Witnesses have vigorously denied allegations of ill-treatment made to the inquiry investigating children’s residential care homes.

A social worker with many years experience at Nazareth House children’s home in Bishop Streetm Derry rejected claims she force fed children and denied she ever saw anyone else mistreat children. She would have reported it had she done so, she told junior counsel to the inquiry Joseph Aiken.

Another worker, employed by the Sisters of Nazareth at the boys’ home in Termonbacca, Derry, denied claims from four former residents that he sexually abused boys.

The witness, a former resident himself, rejected claims that he forced other boys to masturbate him, to perform oral sex on him and that he tried to penetrate one of them.

He said it would have been “impossible for me to do things like that”.

“I was under a doctor’s care with high blood pressure,” he said, adding that he would not have been in a position to act in such a way.

He said of the claims against him: “It’s a lot of nonsense. Jesus, Mary and Joseph, you wouldn’t do that to anybody.”

He told senior counsel to the inquiry Christine Smith QC that he had not been interviewed by the police in relation to these claims.

“The nuns would never tolerate that kind of dirt,” he added. “It’s bad that people could say things like that, it’s awful.”

This witness said he himself had been physically abused while a resident at Termonbacca and witnessed other boys receiving beatings from nuns.

He complained that he was bullied and beaten by older boys and that he was picked on because of his weight. He named one nun he believed thought badly of him because he was overweight. This was the same nun who was described by other witnesses this week as being loving and caring. The witness also recalled witnessing a beating given to one boy with a strap. “You wouldn’t do it to a dog,” he said.

He also said the nuns spent too much time praying rather than checking on the boys’ welfare .

“I pray myself,” he said. “But I don’t spend all that time praying. God doesn’t expect anyone [to do that], but God expects them to look after wee ones.”

The former house parent at Nazareth House in Derry detailed the development of child care practices at the home in the 1980s and 1990s and the inspections which were regularly carried out.

She told the inquiry she was not aware of any child sexual abuse claims when she worked there.

Presented with claims by a former resident that food was forced into her mouth by this witness, she replied: “It clearly didn’t happen. It would disgust me, the thought of doing it to a child.”

The witness also denied claims made by a former resident in evidence to the inquiry that she had struck a child and also threatened to bring her husband into the home to confront the child.

She insisted she treated children in her care with respect and kindness at all times.