Northern Ireland

Two Derry homes to be focus of historical abuse hearings

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Image caption The inquiry launched a poster campaign in February

Two Londonderry homes runs by the Sisters of Nazareth will be the focus of the first public hearings of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry.

Allegations of abuse at St Joseph's Home, Termonbacca, and Nazareth House Children's Home in Bishop Street will be considered in January.

Statements from alleged victims from the homes will be heard when inquiry members visit Australia this month.

Another visit to Australia next year will hear about other institutions.

Last month it was revealed that of the 355 individuals who have applied to speak to the inquiry so far, 57 are from Australia.

The inquiry is examining the extent of child abuse in the Catholic church and state-run institutions in Northern Ireland.

It is due to report to the Northern Ireland Executive in 2016.

Some institutions will no longer be investigated because of various reasons, including a lack of evidence.

However, that decision will be reviewed. The inquiry said it reserves the right to re-open investigations into those institutions if more evidence is brought forward.

In addition, the inquiry is looking at the possibility of adding other institutions.

The closing date for anyone who wants to make an application to it is Friday 29 November.

The second visit to Australia has been scheduled as there will not be enough time to see all the witnesses this month.

A team of four - two from an acknowledgement forum and two from the legal team - will be on the first visit to Australia.

Documents examined by the inquiry have revealed that, between 1947 and 1956, 110 children were sent from institutions in Northern Ireland to institutions in Australia (primarily Western Australia), as part of a UK government policy of child migration.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry was established following the damning Ryan Report in the Republic of Ireland that uncovered decades of endemic abuse in some religious institutions.

The inquiry, which is chaired by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart, held its third public hearing in Belfast on Wednesday.

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