Boy fainted regularly from hunger, NI abuse inquiry hears

Witness claims senior boys were free to abuse juniors in dormitories in Derry home

Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry heard today from a witness who was in home in Derry run by   Sisters of Nazareth nuns

Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry heard today from a witness who was in home in Derry run by Sisters of Nazareth nuns


A boy looked after by Sisters of Nazareth nuns at a home in Derry used to faint regularly during morning Mass because of hunger.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry heard the boy, who has been giving testimony in person, was woken some time after 6am daily to serve at morning Mass. But he often passed out because he said he was always hungry.

The inquiry, which is investigating treatment of children at care homes across Northern Ireland before 1995, heard the witness confirm that while some nuns were pleasant, another was “a hateful bitch”.

She had “a built-in anger and hatred,” the witness told inquiry chairman Sir Anthony Hart.

“You could have no relationship whatsoever with her. You could say she was under pressure, but she really didn’t have to be because the boys were doing a good job in running the place and she should have had the life of Riley.”

He confirmed his statement, given earlier to the inquiry team, in which he referred to this nun as “a bully and very contolling”.

“She was the sort of person who made you feel like you were always doing something wrong and you were a problem. There was no love in her at all.”

The witness told the inquiry that he had been placed in the home at Termonbacca in Derry when he was an infant. His earliest years were happy enough, he said. But when he was older he was moved from the nursery to another dormitory where the older boys “had a playing field,” he alleged.

At night the senior boys would walk up and down between the beds and batter us on the legs.

“I just lay there silent out of fear,” he told the inquiry. He said boys were called out by the senior boy and “used for his entertainment”.

He said he didn’t want to elaborate on that – “it doesn’t leave much to the imagination”. He alleged that the nuns never checked on the boys on the beds and she must have heard the names being called out but did nothing.

He told of an occasion when he was called to the laundry and saw his friend there who had been stripped naked. He was also made to strip naked. “We were touched sexually but we were not made to touch them sexually the abuse never went further than that.”