Care home 'like a living nightmare'

Care home 'like a living nightmare'

The historical institutional abuse inquiry has heard claims that a children’s care home, run by nuns, was like a living nightmare – with details which some viewers may find distressing.

Three victims, who had been in care at Nazareth House in Londonderry, were giving evidence on Tuesday at the inquiry into claims of abuse at institutions from 1922 to 1995.They spoke at length about the physical, mental and sexual abuse they endured. One woman, appearing via videolink from Canada, told the inquiry how at around four or five years old she was force-fed her breakfast which consisted of a basic porridge. The woman said, as a result of those actions, she vomited this up and was then spoon fed her vomit as punishment.She also told how she witnessed a brutal beating of another young child, by a nun, who struck her repeatedly with a thick stick - head to foot - resulting in her body being covered in blood. She said she watched as the child screamed and wailed like an animal in distress.The woman described the nuns who were running the care home as heartless and emotionally handicapped saying it seemed that working with children was a burden for them. The inquiry also heard a description of a brutal sexual assault on one of the women by one of the nuns when she was aged just three or four - the details of which cannot be broadcast. She said she drank from drain pipes when she was thirsty and said she suffered sores all over her body as a result of having her skin scrubbed with a floor brush.The other victim described how she too was beaten by older girls within the Nazareth House and said the emotional distress of being a resident there left her feeling as if she had descended into hell. All three victims also described the level of cleanliness or lack of at the home. They said they had to bathe in dirty water and said how head lice and fleas were rampant. The Sisters of Nazareth Order has already offered an unreserved apology saying they "recognised the hurt that's been caused." The inquiry will report back to the Executive next year with its recommendations for redress.


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