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Psychotic nuns ran children’s home like Nazi concentration camp, abuse inquiry is told


Psychotic nuns ran children’s home like Nazi concentration camp, abuse inquiry is told

* We were bathed in Jeyes fluid, says a former resident * Chain gangs had to polish floor until it sparkled * Boy reported being abused, but sister did nothing

By Michael McHugh – 29 January 2014

From the link: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/psychotic-nuns-ran-childrens-home-like-nazi-concentration-camp-abuse-inquiry-is-told-29959634.html

Nuns who ran a hellhole children’s home in Northern Ireland were virtually psychotic, a former resident said.

The site of the former St Joseph's Home, Termonbacca

The site of the former St Joseph’s Home, Termonbacca

 

The Sisters of Nazareth property in Londonderry was like a Nazi concentration camp, with youngsters’ screams of despair still haunting survivors, the UK’s largest ever inquiry into institutional child abuse was told.

Inmates formed chain gangs to polish floors until they sparkled – with arms linked and rags under both feet – and were beaten with bamboo canes and straps.

One witness reported how the nuns used to wash the children with Jeyes fluid – a strong disinfectant normally used for outdoor cleaning jobs.

Another revealed how he tried to report sexual abuse by older boys to a nun.

The sister said: “You are a bad boy, you are going to Hell, nothing like that ever happened.”

He said the assault happened in St Joseph’s Home, Termonbacca, in Londonderry. The witness said: “That was the reaction, a coldness and heartlessness about the place that will always scare you. I never heard children cry like I have in that place, it was one of despair and that still haunts me a little bit, it was a scream of despair.”

One witness described the atmosphere.

“It was a form of psychological abuse… you were worth nothing,” he said.

Another added: “The whole atmosphere of Termonbacca was not asking and not being informed, you were a number, you were not worthy of information, you were told what to do.”

He was transferred from Derry to a home in Salthill, on the outskirts of Galway city, run by the Christian Brothers.

“The comparison was two hellholes. Which was better?

“It is difficult to describe when things are bad, you are on a race to the bottom. Salthill was Auschwitz; Termonbacca was Treblinka, it was somewhat better,” he said.

One witness said nuns bordered on psychotic at times.

He added: “There was always a hovering threat of something about to happen, even if it did not happen, not happening was in itself a threat.

“It exploded in rage or very ironic, cynical, derogatory (comments) or anything that could be said that could purposefully put you into a psychologically negative landscape, that was their major modus operandi.”

Another witness suffered depression and was silent and withdrawn as a child. He is still seeing a doctor about mental health issues.

He was attacked by older boys, pushed to the ground and beaten.

“There were times I thought I was going to die – it was torture to face another day,” he said.

He later lived south of the border. “The Republic of Ireland, I am sorry to say, was a cruel and unjust place for people of my background. There was no support,” he said.

“They did not want us at all, there was no understanding, there was a lot of ignorance.”

He said the Northern Ireland Executive should not delay because victims were ageing.

Another witness was forced to bring nuns canes to hit him with.

He said: “The only ones I knew were very, very cruel.”

He was once beaten for having a hole in his sock, and also at school for laughing when an ink pot exploded over a desk.

They would go to bed early, because being in bed was a form of control by nuns, he testified, adding he would be praying he did not wet the bed.

“They could get on with their praying… who they are praying to, I am not too sure.”

BACKGROUND

The treatment of children in Church-run residential homes is a key concern of the investigation being held in Banbridge, Co Down. It is chaired by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart. Christine Smith QC (below) is senior counsel for the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, which is considering cases in 13 residential institutions between 1922, the foundation of Northern Ireland, and 1995. Public hearings are due to finish in June 2015, with the inquiry team to report to Stormont’s power-sharing Executive by the start of 2016.

Bath time ‘was like lining up for the gas chamber’

Bath time at a children’s home in Londonderry was like being sent to the gas chamber, the historical abuse inquiry has heard.

A former resident told the inquiry that the the Sisters of Nazareth used to bathe children with Jeyes fluid, a strong chemical detergent used to clear drains, and compared the washing regime to the Nazi gas chambers used in the Holocaust.

“It was kind of like a Zyklon B gas chamber, it was the general cleaning method used for children,” he said.

He alleged that aged five or six he was taken out of bed at night and sexually abused in a bathroom by a woman, perhaps a nun or a civilian worker.

“It was something that was happening outside my body… I am not there although I am there,” he said. “It is as clear today, sadly, because I would love it not to be so clear, but the effects of it were monumental.

“The damage has been done and is permanent and does not go away. They are on their own, they are lonely and sad and broken.”

On Monday Christine Smith QC, for the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, criticised the Sisters of Nazareth for their “less than wholehearted” and slow efforts to hand over evidence.

Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland programme director Patrick Corrigan said this approach was leading to concerns that this is a deliberate tactic to delay and frustrate the investigations of the inquiry.

“Given the fixed lifespan which the Northern Ireland Executive has put in place for the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, we are concerned that late submission of evidence by respondents might undermine the ability of the inquiry to establish the full truth of abuse suffered by children before it is able to conclude its work,” he said.

 

Call for Magdalene Laundry inquiry in NI


Call for Magdalene Laundry inquiry in NI

Former residents of Magdalene Laundries in Northern Ireland are calling for an inquiry into their abuse allegations.

Published Wednesday, 29 May 2013

From the link: http://www.u.tv/News/Call-for-Magdalene-Laundry-inquiry-in-NI/b2996ad0-3d0c-49bc-b467-7fc808c419de

It is thought hundreds of people across the region could come forward with their claims of abuse if a new investigation is established, or the current inquiry amended.

The current Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry does not cover victims of clerical child abuse and former residents of Magdalene Laundry-type institutions in NI.

But on Wednesday, they will gather to ask for the terms of that inquiry to be extended to include them.

They are backed by Amnesty International, and Patrick Corrigan from the organisation said it is now time for NI’s politicians to take further action.

He explained: “We are now coming to them with those other issues too, particular groups who have been left out of the current inquiry, children who have been abused at community or parish level, and women who were incarcerated effectively in those Magdalene Laundry-type institutions, and who suffered abuse not as children, but as adults.

“It’s now time for the Executive and the Assembly to turn their attention to justice and truth for those groups too.”

Many of these people are now in advanced years and they’ve had to live with shame, with stigma and they’ve a dark shadow cast over the whole of their lives, and a feeling that nobody wanted to know them and nobody was there when they were most vulnerable in their lives.

Patrick Corrigan

For the victims of abuse, Mr Corrigan said they want the state to acknowledge “the pain they went through”.

He added: “They now want to turn to our political representatives, and we are asking today for those leaders to listen to those victims now as adults, and to give them the truth, the justice and the acknowledgement that they crave before they finally pass away themselves.”

The current inquiry is investigating allegations of abuse at 35 sites across NI, including state-run children’s homes, institutions run by the Catholic Church, borstals, and institutions run by Protestant churches or voluntary sector organisations.

The three-year review, chaired by Sir Anthony Hart, could cost up to £19m.

After hearing from the alleged victims, an acknowledgement forum panel will produce a report to Sir Anthony detailing the claims.

Earlier this year, Taoiseach Enda Kenny described the Magdalene Laundries as “the nation’s shame”.

Speaking in the Irish government, Mr Kenny apologised to the victims of abuse after a report found thousands of women forced into the workhouses were physically and verbally abused.

The 18-month inquiry found 10,000 single mothers, women, and girls as young as 11 were forced into detention, mostly in the for-profit laundries. More than 2,000 women were sent to the laundries by the Irish authorities.

Some were detained for petty crime, others for disability, or pregnancy outside marriage.