Northern Ireland

Historical Abuse Inquiry hears Sisters of Nazareth nuns 'were almost psychotic'

Termonbacca
Image caption St Joseph's Home, Termonbacca, was run by the Sisters of Nazareth order of nuns

Nuns' treatment of children at a residential care home was "bordering on the psychotic", Northern Ireland's Historical Abuse Inquiry has been told.

Sisters of Nazareth nuns thumped and kicked children at Termonbacca, the first witness to give evidence said.

The former resident described the home as a "hell-hole" and likened it to a concentration camp.

He said children were forced to clean floors in a chain, with their arms linked and rags under both feet.

The inquiry is investigating abuse claims against children's residential institutions from 1922 to 1995.

The witness said he was once sexually abused by a woman at the home, although he could not recall if it was a nun or a civilian worker.

The Sisters of Nazareth order of nuns ran two homes in Londonderry, Nazareth House Children's Home and St Joseph's Home, Termonbacca.

At the start of the inquiry earlier this month, a lawyer representing the nuns read out an apology for the abuse suffered by children in their homes.

The witness said on Tuesday that this apology had "left him numb".

Later, a second resident of Termonbacca said he was beaten by older boys at the home.

"I thought I was going to die - it was torture to face another day," he said.

He thanked the inquiry for reuniting him with his siblings for the first time in 40 years.

A third witness, a man who is now 74, told the inquiry that he remembers being beaten every day and wetting the bed every night.

He said the children who wet the bed were forced to strip naked and made to stand in a queue to have a bath in Jeyes Fluid.

He broke down as he described how the nuns had gallon drums with Jeyes Fluid that would sting their skin and eyes.

He said it was not too bad if you were first in, but it got topped as each child got into the bath - all being bathed in the same water.

The Derry homes are among a total of 13 residential institutions currently under investigation by the inquiry.

Some of them were run by state authorities, others by voluntary organisations and the remainder were operated by the Catholic Church.

To date, 434 people have contacted the inquiry to allege they were abused as children.

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