Abuse probe head requests one year extension

St Joseph's Boys' Home, Termonbacca, pictured in the early 1960s.
St Joseph's Boys' Home, Termonbacca, pictured in the early 1960s.

A retired judge leading a public inquiry into historical child abuse at kids’ care homes in Derry has requested a one-year extension to his work.

Stormont’s first and deputy first ministers say Sir Anthony Hart made a persuasive and compelling case and they will recommend that the Executive agrees to lengthen the investigation.

The inquiry has already heard a series of allegations from former residents of two Derry care homes run by nuns.

St Joseph’s Boys’ Home, Termonbacca, and Nazareth House Children’s Home, at Bishop Street, were both run by the Sisters of Nazareth.

Former residents pf the Derry homes have told the inquiry that children were made to eat their own vomit and bathe in disinfectant.

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness said: “We do not underestimate the complexities of dealing with institutional abuse. We must ensure that the inquiry provides every opportunity for those impacted by the allegations of institutional abuse to be heard in an open forum.

“Sir Anthony Hart made a very persuasive and compelling case for a one year extension to the timeframe.”

The inquiry team is due to report to the Executive by the start of 2016.

If granted, the change would mean the report would not now be submitted to ministers until January 18, 2017.

Sir Anthony Hart said: “We make this request to extend the life of the inquiry for one year with considerable reluctance, and only do so after detailed considerations of the implications.

“However, on the basis of our experience to date, we are now in a position to calculate how many sitting days it will take to call all the witnesses who wish to give evidence from every institution, and each individual whom we will, or will probably, investigate.

“Should our request for an extension of one year be granted, we will of course continue to make every effort to complete our work in a shorter time should that be possible.”