Boy 'didn't know what mammy meant'

Published Wednesday, 29 January 2014
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A priest told a former resident of a church-run children's home in Northern Ireland that he was the product of an evil and satanic relationship, an inquiry has heard.

Boy 'didn't know what mammy meant'
The inquiry will investigate abuse in religious and state care institutions. (© UTV)

The son of an unmarried mother said he became a zombie - introverted and fearing the next beating, lying soaked in urine at night in an attempt to dissuade sexual abusers from "dropping the hand."

He lived at St Joseph's in Termonbacca, Londonderry, run by the Sisters of Nazareth order of Catholic nuns, in the 1950s after being born in abject poverty and abandoned by his parents.

He was known as 10b.

The child was later placed in a dormitory full of youngsters crying for their mothers.

It would break your heart, you would have to have a heart of steel and cement, I used to join in crying. I had not a clue what mammy meant.

Witness, child known as 10b

The former resident complained about his treatment to a cleric after leaving the home.

The response was: "You must never speak about this, you must understand... you and the other orphans are bastards. You are the product of an evil and satanic relationship. You never had a chance."

The witness said: "That was the day I left the Catholic Church."

The treatment of children in church-run residential homes is a key concern of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, which is being held in Banbridge, Co Down.

It is chaired by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart and is considering cases in 13 residential institutions between 1922, the foundation of Northern Ireland, and 1995.

The witness said: "The truth is setting me free today more than this Commission knows. I have come here to tell the truth and as I am reaching out, I am reaching out in healing and trying to forgive but at this moment I cannot.

"I have waited 65 years to say this. When I was reared by the Sisters of the Congregation of Nazareth it was equivalent to being reared by the Taliban, such was their sadism, their lack of empathy, their fundamentalism, their lack of dignity to the little helpless boy," he alleged.

"I was truly a feral child, an introverted child. When I came back from school I would be at the window on my own for hour after hour, night after night. I never played as a child," he told the inquiry.

He attended school with the opposite sex. It was also run by nuns, who warned the girls not to speak to "filthy" boys.

"The girls would look down on us like we were nothing," he said.

He wore ragged and inadequate clothing and claimed lying in pyjamas saturated in urine had left him with a medical condition.

The witness recalled visits of the bishop, his pope-like gestures and exhortations to pray for the conversion of the Russians, while the boy's immediate aim was wetting the bed to make him less attractive to sexual predators, even though it exposed him to public humiliation.

"If I didn't wet the bed, which was very unusual, it was my belief that, what sexual abuser would want to drop the hand or abuse a child that was saturated in their own urine?"

He described polishing floors until they shined, gangs of children using rags on their feet.

He said he was deprived of the "nutrition" of a proper education, now absorbing books to make up - including an autobiography of Tony Blair.

He never played football or any other normal childhood pursuits.

Another victim said his Christmas presents "disappeared".

"You had no real personal possessions, none."

One witness testified that he just wanted to feel secure, for somebody to see him as a human being, not as a bastard but as a person with dignity.

He never married.

"If anybody in the room knew what it is like to go through life without love," he said.

A woman is beautiful, I see it all around me, I see the beautiful kids that I will never have.

Another witness

He attributed this "life sentence" of loneliness to women in his childhood who brutalised him with beatings.

"Yet to make it worse these women professed to have a mission of love," he testified.

He said he was no longer angry.

"I feel sorry in the sense that they must be mentally disturbed, they too were victims."

He claimed they often became nuns to give a family social status or to get rid of a problem, but added their vows went against their feminine instinct to have children.

"I feel sad for them because they are no longer in control of me."

Public hearings are due to finish in June 2015, with the inquiry team to report to Stormont's power-sharing Executive by the start of 2016.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
11 Comments
You are Gullible in Coleraine wrote (179 days ago):
@Art Cassidy Can you not discern between individuals and the Church? The Catholic church involves ritual and prayer so it is essential to attend church services and receive the sacraments. Evil individual acts are what Man by his nature is capable of, no matter who he is. All these media stories and the manipulation of people to imagine that religion is wrong and bad are having the desired effect. It's a pity that people don't think for themselves and look at the Soviet Union and North Korea as two examples where God has been replaced by the worship of the individual. All men are capable of very bad things and deserve secular justice until they're proven guilty.
Art Cassidy in Fermanagh wrote (179 days ago):
I feel so sorry and powerless for all those abused boys. Please do not allow any church or institution to interfere in your relationship with Jesus. You do not need them, regardless how much they preach to the contrary. without you they are powerless, while you with Jesus have the power of the universe abd more.
Iseult in NI wrote (179 days ago):
I'm sorry for this man and all those who suffered in those homes. It makes for uncomfortable reading, so God only knows what it must have been like to actually be there, putting up with such cruelty on a daily basis. How could anyone treat innocent children like that?
Lynda in Belfast wrote (179 days ago):
This totally breaks my heart to know this went on. How can you deprive another human being of a life! Children of play, love, security. These people's lives were damaged beyond repair. Innocent, fragile little children that depend on love & nurturing. People can be so cruel. Sending Love, Light & Healing to these people affected x
con grugan in Australia wrote (179 days ago):
how can people be so evil to a child? do they never have quiet time to contemplate how wrong and evil they are. nasty nasty filth
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