Homeboy defends nuns

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A former resident of St Joseph’s Boys Home in Termonbacca has spoken out in defence of nuns who ran the institution during his time there.

Former ‘Homeboy’ Bernard McEldowney acknowledges that “many people” were victims of institutionalised physical and sexual abuse in care homes many years ago.

In a frank statement issued to the ‘Journal’, Mr McEldowney who spent the first 18 years of his life in the care of the Sisters of Nazareth - first in Fahan and for the larger part at Termonbacca - says a “sad re-writing of history” is taking place in terms of life in the local homes.

He said he decided to air his comments after thinking “long and hard” following the recent launch of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry.

“The impression being given by some ex Termonbacca boys is that all of the children living in Termonbacca many years ago were the victims of a regime of gratuitous and excessive violence from the nuns.

“That is simply a re-writing of history. My memories of having lived in Termonbacca have always been very positive. I loved living there and was very sad when I had to leave. Like many other ex-Termonbacca boys I regularly returned to visit my ‘home’ and I am very grateful to the Sisters of Nazareth for the wonderful start in life they gave me and many other ex Termonbacca residents.”

Mr McEldowney said he was not either an “abuse denier or defender” but he raised questions over some of the allegations being made against the Nazareth nuns.

“I know that a number of ex-Termonbacca boys are now being coordinated into making historical allegations against the nuns. I am sure that allegations being made by some of them are genuine. In relation to the sexual abuse allegations I understand that these are being made against some of the older boys and to the best of my knowledge there is no suggestion that the nuns were actively aware of this abuse or condoned it.

“Given the ratio of boys to nuns it would have been impossible for the nuns to have effectively supervised the children to prevent such abuse,” he added.

He said that in those days corporal punishment was “quite lawful” and was “a fact of life”.

“Like many others I have moved on and put that to the back of my mind,” he said.