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Inquiry into historic child abuse to focus on homes allegations

Published 31/08/2015

Cardinal Sean Brady leaves after giving evidence to the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry at Banbridge Courthouse, County Down
Cardinal Sean Brady leaves after giving evidence to the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry at Banbridge Courthouse, County Down

A long-running public inquiry will examine allegations of historic child abuse at juvenile justice institutions when it resumes this week.

Retired judge Sir Anthony Hart is leading the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) probe, one of the UK's largest inquiries into physical, sexual and emotional harm to children at homes run by the church, state and voluntary organisations.

Its seventh module, expected to last until November, will focus on allegations arising out of St Patrick's Training School and Hydebank Young Offenders' Centre in Belfast, Rathgael Training School in Bangor and Lisnevin Training School in Newtownards.

In June, the HIA, spent a week examining the failings that allowed notorious paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth to continue abusing children over four decades.

Retired Catholic Primate Cardinal Sean Brady was among those who gave evidence and said he hoped light would be shed on a "dark chapter" in the church's history.

The inquiry was set up in January 2013 by the Northern Ireland Executive to investigate child abuse which occurred in residential institutions over a 73-year period from 1922 to 1995.

A total of 16 child care facilities are under investigation and around 300 witnesses are expected to give evidence.

Investigative work is scheduled to finish next summer with a report submitted to the MLAs at Stormont the following year.

The HIA is sitting at Banbridge Courthouse, County Down.

On the panel alongside Sir Anthony Hart, a retired High Court judge, is Geraldine Doherty, a former head of the Central Council for Education and Training in Social Work in Scotland and David Lane, formerly director of social services in Wakefield, West Yorkshire.

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