NI abuse inquiry investigates child migration to Australia

Most of the 66 witnesses will be interviewed by video link next month

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, chaired by Sir Anthony Hart (centre) and assisted by panel members Geraldine Doherty and David Lane, commenced its public hearings last January. Photograph: Paul Faith/PA Wire

The transport of children to Australia will be the focus of the Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry when it resumes its public hearings onSeptember 1st.

A team from the inquiry and its confidential Acknowledgement Forum has already made two trips to Australia, during which 66 applicants living in Australia were interviewed. All had applied to take part in the inquiry.

This second module of the inquiry is expected to last three weeks and will involve witnesses providing evidence to the oral hearings of events which occurred to them before they left Northern Ireland and sent as child migrants to Australia. A majority of the witnesses will provide oral evidence via video link.

Documentation examined by the inquiry revealed that between 1946 and 1956 children were sent from various institutions in Northern Ireland to institutions in Australia (primarily Western Australia) as part of a UK government policy.


Sitting at the courthouse in Banbridge, Co Down the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry was formally established by the Northern Ireland Executive in January 2013. Its remit is to investigate physical, emotional and sexual childhood abuse, and childhood neglect in residential institutions in Northern Ireland over the 73 year period to 1995.

Chaired by Sir Anthony Hart, assisted by panel members Geraldine Doherty and David Lane, it commenced its public hearings last January and its first module focused on two former children's institutions in Derry/Londonderry which were run by the Sisters of Nazareth.

It hopes to commence hearings for Module Three at the end of September when the former De La Salle Boys' Home, Rubane House, at Kircubbin, Co Down will be the subject.

The inquiry's Confidential Acknowledgement Forum panel members are Beverley Clarke, Norah Gibbons, Dave Marshall and Tom Shaw. They provide an informal context where victims and survivors of childhood institutional abuse and neglect can recount their experiences in confidence.

Further details at

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry

Patsy McGarry is a contributor to The Irish Times