Belfast Telegraph

Scalded, abused and abandoned... man tells of abuse at hands of Nazareth House nuns

By Lesley Houston

An elderly man has revealed harrowing details of being hit by a nun and scalded with boiling water during 10 years at a Belfast home.

The frail man in his 80s told yesterday's Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry how he ended up in hospital for three weeks following the incident at Nazareth House.

For others, however, their time to confront their abusers in the home run by the sisters of Nazareth came too late.

The inquiry was read hand-written testimony from one alleged victim, who died six years ago, that warned his tormentors would some day have to account for their actions.

It is examining abuse claims at Nazareth House and Nazareth Lodge. The two homes have previously apologised to all abused in their care.

The panel of inquiry first heard from a man, just released from hospital, who told how he was scalded with boiling water after being assaulted by a nun.

He said that it had been his regular duty to bring a certain nun a jug of boiling water but when he arrived late one day she lashed out at him. "She hit me across the face with her crutch," he said. "The boiling water from the jug went all over my body and hands and scalded me."

He said the incident meant he had to be treated at the Mater Hospital where he was "kept in for two or three weeks."

The elderly victim had been taken into care at the age of two, in 1943, and had spent 10 years in the home.

The inquiry's chairman, Sir Anthony Harte, paid tribute to the man who he said had made "considerable physical effort" to attend the hearing, held at Banbridge courthouse. The Sisters of Nazareth have offered the pensioner an "unreserved and most sincere apology".

The inquiry heard that the witness was also sexually abused by older boys while in care at the home.

Sir Anthony Harte's investigation was attended by the family of a man who had compiled a written statement after his time within the regime.

His testimony also revealed, however, occasional gestures of kindness and love from some of the nuns.

Sadly, the man did not live long enough to give his testimony in person, passing away six years ago.

His family had come from England to participate in the hearing.

The poignant evidence of the aged pair follows testimony the previous day when the inquiry's oldest witness, an 89-year-old man, spoke of daily beatings by a nun and constant sexual abuse by older boys in Nazareth Lodge in Belfast.

The inquiry also heard on Monday that some witnesses alleged they had been abused by notorious paedophile Fr Brendan Smyth in two homes in south and east Belfast.

Background

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry is expected to hear from more than 300 witnesses. So far, more than 100 witnesses who had resided at a number of care homes have come forward to give accounts of their treatment. The public hearings form part of the process which is investigating incidents of child abuse at residential institutions over a 73-year period up to 1995.

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