Children suffered sectarian abuse at NI home, inquiry hears

‘Daily fights’ between Catholic and Protestant residents in 1970s alleged

 Chairman of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry Sir Anthony Hart. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

Chairman of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry Sir Anthony Hart. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

 

Children were allegedly subjected to sectarian abuse by staff at a state-run institution in Northern Ireland, a lawyer told a public inquiry.

Catholic and Protestant residents fought at Lisnevin training school in Newtownards, near Belfast, during the height of the conflict, witnesses have told the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry.

Lawyer Christine Smith QC said there was an allegation of “daily fights between Catholic and Protestant residents” during the 1970s.

Lisnevin in 1973 was non-denominational between Catholics and Protestants. However, Ms Smith said there was a claim by a former resident of “sectarian abuse from other residents and from staff”.

Retired judge Sir Anthony Hart is leading the inquiry, one of the UK’s largest inquiries into physical, sexual and emotional harm to children at homes run by the church, state and voluntary organisations.

Its seventh module, expected to last until November, will focus on allegations arising out of St Patrick’s Training School and Hydebank Young Offenders’ Centre in Belfast, Rathgael Training School in Bangor and Lisnevin Training School in Newtownards, Co Down.

Some of the residents spent time in one institution, some in all four. – (PA)