Northern Ireland

Harberton House: Police investigated alleged abuse at former children's home

The Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry is taking place in Banbridge courthouse, County Down
Image caption The HIA inquiry was set up in 2013 to investigate child abuse in residential institutions in Northern Ireland over a 73-year period

Police investigated alleged abuse at a former children's home in Londonderry, the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry has heard.

The investigations were linked to alleged sexual activity among children at state-run, Harberton House.

The children's home was run by the former Western Health and Social Services Trust and is now closed.

Counsel to the inquiry, Christine Smith, said the "peer abuse" involved children aged seven to 13 years old.

Ms Smith said eight children were initially identified as having been involved, but subsequently five adolescents were implicated in sexual activity.

The abuse happened, she said, over a number of months at the end of 1989 and early in 1990.

Witnesses

Allegations of abuse at Harberton House and the former Fort James children's home also in Londonderry, are now being included in the inquiry.

The HIA inquiry was set up in 2013 to investigate child abuse in residential institutions in Northern Ireland over a 73-year period, up to 1995.

The inquiry is taking place at Banbridge courthouse, County Down and is expected to hear from more than 300 witnesses during the course of the public evidence sessions.

It is required to complete its hearings and all investigative work by mid-summer 2016, and has to submit its report to the Northern Ireland Executive by January 17 2017.

Among its recommendations could be compensating victims who have alleged they were abused.

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