The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA), headed by Sir Anthony Hart, above, reveals that children’s homes run by churches and charities in Northern Ireland were the scene of widespread abuse and mistreatment of young residents.
Sir Anthony, according to the BBC, said the largest number of complaints received related to four Sisters of Nazareth homes. It found nuns physically and emotionally abused children in their care.
The HIA studied allegations of abuse in 22 homes and other residential institutions between 1922 to 1995.
Many of the incidents relating to sexual abuse were known by members of the clergy who did nothing to stop them.
The HIA heard evidence from hundreds of people who spent their childhood in residential homes and institutions.
Hearings were held into facilities run by the state, local authorities, the Catholic Church, the Church of Ireland, and Barnardo’s.
A total of 493 people engaged with the inquiry, in one form or another, and while the majority were seen in Belfast, others were seen in Londonderry, the Republic of Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and Australia.
Turning his attention to the former local authority-run Kincora Boys’ Home in east Belfast, Sir Anthony said the inquiry had:
Stripped away decades of half truths masquerading as facts, in relation to Kincora and what state agencies did or did not do about [the abuse there].
In 2015, a victim of child sex abuse at the Kincora Boys Home revealed how he was molested by “very powerful people” at a luxury apartment block and notorious guest house linked to a VIP paedophile ring.
Richard Kerr, above, – a former resident at the home – claimed young boys like himself were trafficked to England and abused by a well-organised ring in London.
Three men, William McGrath, Raymond Semple and Joseph Mains, who were senior care staff at Kincora, were jailed in 1981 for abusing 11 boys.
Sir Anthony said when the police became aware in 1974 of complaints against McGrath, the investigation was:
Inept and inadequate.
He said a proper investigation into McGrath may have meant the children who were abused after 1974 could have been spared.
He added that the boys were let down by those three individuals, who committed sexual abuse “of the gravest kind” to teenage boys in their care.
But the majority of those at Kincora between 1958 and 1980, who gave evidence, said they were not sexually abused during their time there.
The former retired judge is also expected to deal with a number of issues including apologies, a memorial, redress and compensation.
Some of those who gave evidence to the inquiry have travelled to Belfast from different parts of Northern Ireland to hear his conclusions.
The publication today of the HIA report brings to a conclusion the Inquiry’s investigation into historical institutional abuse. The HIA was formally established in January 2013 by the Northern Ireland Executive.