Derry home nuns ‘warm and caring’, says social worker

Witnesses tell abuse inquiry of trust in senior nun

Three social workers have testified to the Historical Abuse Inquiry that despite some shortcomings, care homes in Derry run by the Sisters of Nazareth were places of safety for vulnerable children.

Three social workers have testified to the Historical Abuse Inquiry that despite some shortcomings, care homes in Derry run by the Sisters of Nazareth were places of safety for vulnerable children.

 

Three social workers have testified to the Historical Abuse Inquiry that despite some shortcomings, care homes in Derry run by the Sisters of Nazareth were places of safety for vulnerable children. Two of them said a named senior nun there was a warm and caring person whom they trusted.

These claims follow that of another social worker witness on Monday who praised the level of care provided by the nuns at two residential homes in the city.

A former senior social worker, now retired and who cannot be named, told the inquiry yesterday he first visited Termonbacca in 1975 as there were children there under the supervision of the social work team he led. He said he found the environment there to be warm and welcoming and the staff, including some of the sisters, to be “very caring”.

Care on the cheap’

Following reform of local social work services in the 1970s, the witness said there were many gaps in the social work cover provided in the region.

By 1980, the witness said, most social work posts were filled but he added that caseloads for generic social workers were still very large with sometimes 60 or more cases being handled by each member of the social work team.

In response to questions from inquiry chairman Sir Anthony Hart, the witness agreed the Western board was “getting care on the cheap” from the Sisters of Nazareth.

A second witness, another former social worker, said he got to know the nun in charge of Termonbacca well. He described her as “extremely caring , almost motherly individual in her interaction with the children”.

A third witness, who is still a practising social worker, described Termonbacca as “a religious building as opposed to a cosy, warm, building”.

“But at the same time children were being removed from home where they were suffering.”