An inquiry headed by a former senior judge is examining the extent of wrongdoing in children’s homes, orphanages, industrial schools, workhouses, borstals, hospital units and schools for young people with disabilities. Many were run by religious orders which at the time largely evaded scrutiny.
Sir Anthony Hart’s probe was ordered by Northern Ireland’s ministerial executive after the problem was found to be endemic across similar institutions in the Republic of Ireland and claims of mistreatment of victims north of the border.
The expert panel will investigate whether sexual, emotional or physical harm was inflicted upon children and if there were systemic failings by institutions or the state in their duties towards children in their care between 1922 and 1995.
More than 300 witnesses from Northern Ireland, Australia, the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain are expected to give evidence.
Two Londonderry homes run by Sisters of Nazareth nuns will be the focus of early inquiry sessions, St Joseph’s at Termonbacca and Nazareth House on Bishop Street.
Chairman Sir Anthony is expected to give an opening address today, followed by a general overview of the questions and issues to be addressed from legal counsel to the inquiry Christine Smith QC, which is expected to last until Wednesday.
The inquiry is likely to hear evidence from more than 300 witnesses. Most will give evidence in person, although some may only submit a written statement.
Cryil Smith MP Lib Dem
Like so many other investigations into the abuse of children it has taken more than twenty years to get to the stage where there will be an inquiry. Victims have grown up, commited suicide, ruined their lives, or remained determined to find justice. Why does an inquiry like this take so long?
Why did the Jimmy Saville abuses go on for fifty years?
There`s got to be an answer but by dragging their feet it looks like the establishment does not want the public to know what that is.