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Child migrant sexually abused in Australia after arriving at Catholic home, abuse inquiry hears


Many transported children experienced severe abuse in Australian institutions

Many transported children experienced severe abuse in Australian institutions

Getty Images/iStockphoto

Many transported children experienced severe abuse in Australian institutions

A former child migrant from Northern Ireland to Australia has told a public inquiry he was transferred with no idea where he was going and faced more sexual abuse when he arrived in a Catholic home there.

Des McDaid, 70, said he was targeted by older boys, a lay teacher and members of the Christian Brothers religious order which ran the Clontarf institution near Perth in Western Australia. Aged eight, he was not told where he was going when he was transferred on board the ship the New Australian.

He gave evidence to the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry, which was established by ministers in Belfast.

He said: "The big thing I want you to remember is the helplessness."

He said he was raped by an older boy at the Termonbacca boys home in Londonderry run by an order of nuns and the paedophilia continued in Australia.

Using a video link from Australia, he said: "I had a lot more of it over here, from the Christian Brothers etc."

The Sisters of Nazareth order of Catholic nuns in Northern Ireland was responsible for the removal of 111 child migrants aged as young as five before and after the Second World War, some of whom faced grave sexual and physical violence after arrival. Another 20 were sent by other institutions.

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Mr McDaid, who has waived his right to anonymity and is originally from Co Donegal in the Irish Republic, was transferred from the custody of the Sisters to the Brothers in Australia with no idea where he was going.

While in Termonbacca, he was bathed in Jeyes cleaning fluid and thrown up in the air.

"By and large there was more pain than there were good times," he added.

In 1953, he arrived in Fremantle as part of the child migration scheme. He thought he was an orphan until the age of 48 when he had an emotional reunion with his mother, who Mr McDaid said did not give her consent to the transfer.

She said: "Forgive me, forgive me, forgive me."


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