Children in care 'worked in chain gangs'

Published Tuesday, 28 January 2014
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A former resident of a children's home in Londonderry, run by the Sisters of Nazareth, has told an abuse inquiry how he worked in a chain gang in conditions likened to a Nazi concentration camp.

Children in care 'worked in chain gangs'
Victims and survivors of historical abuse are being asked to come forward. (© Simon Graham/Harrison Photography.)

The investigation into allegations regarding 13 church and state-run children's homes in Northern Ireland is being chaired by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart in Banbridge, Co Down.

On Tuesday, a witness claimed he had been sexually assaulted by a woman at St Joseph's Home in Termonbacca when he was aged just five or six.

He further described having been bathed in Jeyes fluid during alleged abuse in the 1950s and 60s.

"It was kind of like a Zyklon B gas chamber," he said.

The witness was later transferred over the border to a Christian Brothers home in Galway, which he referred to as "essentially a gulag - a child's prison".

The comparison was two hell holes. Which is better? It is difficult to describe when things are bad - you are on a race to the bottom. Salthill (Galway) was Auschwitz, Termonbacca was Treblinka.


The abuse inquiry, which is the largest of its kind to ever be held in the UK, is looking into cases in Northern Ireland which happened between 1922 and 1995.

Alleged abuse at Sisters of Nazareth properties in Derry is already said to have included:

  • separation of brothers and sisters, not even telling them if they were in the same home
  • locking in cupboards or threatening to send them to a hospital for those with learning disabilities
  • forced farm labouring or working in the laundry instead of going to school
  • removal of Christmas presents and other personal items
  • leaving youngsters hungry through inadequate food, or alternately force feeding
  • forcing children to eat their own vomit when they were ill

The inquiry has also heard that young people in the care homes were known by numbers rather than their names, and that they were allegedly abused, threatened and humiliated.

The religious order previously made a public apology.

Public hearings are scheduled to continue until June 2015, with the inquiry team then due to report to the Stormont Executive early in 2016.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Angry for victims in Belfast wrote (363 days ago):
Its so awful to hear of the lives these children had. My question is what is going to happen?? I hope this isnt just an enquiry but one that also prosecutes anyone still alive who was responsible or played any part.
stephen in belfast wrote (363 days ago):
shocking pure and simple
John in Newtownabbey wrote (363 days ago):
Clergy of both genders were arrogant in the extreme. They abused their power regarding themselves as, "The Lord's anointed!". Any dissent was cruelly curbed. As a victim of cruelty at a clergy run grammar school I can say that the attitude of superiority of the clergy which is still seen today, was breathtaking!
Marie mc fall in Newry wrote (363 days ago):
All homes run by nuns were not like this at 49 i still hold the sister in charge of Orana house home run by the mercy nuns with great respect.since 6 weeks until i was 18 i got the besy.
its hard to take in this abuse in comber wrote (363 days ago):
how could they treat kids like this? they are a disgrace to the church.
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