‘abuse victims need to be heard’

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A prominent Derry priest, who this week attended the Historical Abuse Inquiry into abuse carried out in a number of church run care homes between 1922 and 1995, said he believes it’s vital that witnesses now have a “safe space where their voices can be heard.”

Diocesan spokesperson Father Michael Canny said he knows some of the alleged victims and attended the inquiry as a support to those people and others.

“We’ve met on a number of occasions and I felt it important to be there to hear real stories, from real people and to be able to absorb those stories,” he said.

Witnesses at the large scale inquiry this week revealed horrifying details regarding alleged abuse at St Joseph’s Boys’ Home at Termonbacca, which was run by the Sisters of Nazareth. Nuns have been accused of repeatedly beating children and making them take baths in disinfectant. Many cases of psychological and sexual abuse were also reported.

Fr. Canny said it was impossible to understand what victims had gone through but he was pleased that they were now able to speak out without fear.

“Those of us who didn’t live through those times can’t have any understanding of the physical pain and the emotional impact suffered but it’s now very important that those people have a safe space for them to be able to tell their stories,” he said.

Fr. Canny said he would continue to attend the inquiry when the hearings resume.

The inquiry is also due to take witness testimony from nuns, former nuns and staff who worked in the homes.