Boy ‘punished for being left-handed’

A former resident of a boys’ home run by the Nazareth nuns in Derry says he was beaten for being left-handed.

Jon McCourt, a resident of St Joseph’s Boys’ Home, Termonbacca, in the 1950s and 1960s, yesterday waived his right to anonymity at the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry.

He told the inquiry: “I remember, when I was about five years old, being constantly beaten by one particular nun, to get me to stop writing with my left hand.”

He said this was a common practice at the time, adding: “They were messing up with how we were wired.”

Mr. McCourt, who campaigned for years for an inquiry into abuse at children’s institutions, also told the inquiry he blamed unionist domination in Derry in the 1950s for him ending up in Termonbacca.

He said he spent 10 years in the home “not because my mother didn’t love me”, but because unionist leaders would not build homes for Catholics in the city.

Mr. McCourt also showed the inquiry a photo from the ‘Derry Journal’ from the 1960s showing a group of young boys from the home on a day trip outside Derry’s Guildhall.

He pointed out himself and his two brothers in the photograph, but said he did not know they were his brothers at the time.