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The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry in N Ireland and It's Survivors

The author is an Honours graduate of Queens University Belfast, Ireland.

Saint Patricks Training School, Belfast

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Introduction To The HIA Inquiry

The Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry began in 2014 and continued until 2017. Its focus was local authority care homes and juvenile justice institutions including:

  • Juvenile Justice Institutions (formerly Industrial and Reformatory Schools, effectively children's detention centres)
    • St Patrick’s Training School, Belfast
    • Lisnevin Training School, County Down
    • Rathgael Training School, Bangor
  • Secular Voluntary Homes
    • Barnardo's Sharonmore Project, Newtownabbey
    • Barnardo's Macedon, Newtownabbey
  • Roman Catholic Voluntary Homes
    • St Joseph’s Home, Termonbacca, Derry
    • Nazareth House Children's Home, Derry
    • Nazareth House Children's Home, Belfast
    • Nazareth Lodge Children's Home, Belfast
    • De La Salle Boys' Home, Rubane House, Kircubbin, County Down
  • The inquiry was headed by retired Judge Anthony Harte (nicknamed 'judge no-heart throughout the judicial system). Its remit was to listen to the testimonies of individuals, most of whom are now adults, about the sexual abuse and brutality they received in these institutions and others not listed above. The call for an inquiry followed an avalanche of complaints of sexual abuse and mistreatment by former residents of those institutions.

The Infamous Kincora Boys Home - a Pedo Ring for the elites like Mountbatten. It was also part of an MI5 blackmail operation called 'Clockwork Orange'.

Kincora was the centre of a pedophile ring for the elites run by MI5 partly as part of an operation called 'Clockwork Orange' to blackmail loyalist politicians. Rich elites such as Mountbatten &  Westminster elites were involved in the pedo ring.

Kincora was the centre of a pedophile ring for the elites run by MI5 partly as part of an operation called 'Clockwork Orange' to blackmail loyalist politicians. Rich elites such as Mountbatten & Westminster elites were involved in the pedo ring.

The Kincora Scandal: Political Cover-Up ad Intrigue in Northern Ireland

My Evidence

The details of the Historical Abuse Inquiry can be found on its website. As a survivor of both St Patricks Training School, Belfast, administered by the De La Salle Order, where I was remanded in custody aged sixteen accused of possession of eighteen .357 cal rounds of ammunition and three Franchi speed loaders, and was later transferred to the Northern Ireland Prison Service's Hydebank Young Offenders (YOC). I gave evidence to the inquiry by way of a statement outlining:

  • The often nightly sexual abuse suffered by young boys and children at St Patrick's Training School or on a regular basis
  • The extreme brutality of the Hydebank YOC
  • That it was common knowledge among lay staff at St Patrick's that children were abused
  • That a regime of terror and brutality was an everyday occurrence in Hydebank YOC and that this was common knowledge among both staff and inmates.
  • I outlined the modus operandi of the 'Brother' in charge of the part of St Patrick's Training School I was held who abused boys under the pretence of delivering comic books to inmates in their rooms once the lay staff had left for the night
  • I also gave a number of sample accounts of the brutality I had suffered at the hands of the screws (guards) and even more extreme barbarity I had personally witnessed being meted out to other inmates in Hydebank YOC
  • My evidence correlated closely with those of other victims of sexual abuse at St Patrick's Training School and Hydebank YOC.

A Whitewash?

In its finding in an inquiry that lasted several years there were criticisms of, but no significant formal charges against the perpetrators, concerning the systemic sexual abuse that was a constant at childrens' institutions which were administered by religious orders. Many of the members of the religious orders gave evidence, including the main abuser in the section of St Patrick's Training School where I spent close to a year on remand.

When it came to the abuse, brutality, sectarianism and regime of terror that existed in the state-run Hydebank YOC, a seemingly endless line-up of prison governors, screws and civil servants were wheeled into court to paint a picture of Hydebank as a 'firm but fair' institution, that if they were to be believed resembled an institutional nirvana that no inmate who spent time there would have recognized - as the state's witnesses were quite frankly lying.

Needless to say, Judge Harte and the other panel members sided partisanly with the prison officials and civil servants.

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Conclusion

It is my belief and it is a belief shared by many fellow survivors and many legal advisors that the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry and the Redress Board was a whitewash. Insomuch as it was an exercise in being seen to do something about the systemic sexual abuse in institutions administered by religious orders and charities and the extreme barbarity of the state-run Hydebank YOC at the time, that effectively ruined the lives of thousands of children and young people. Of my contemporaries in both institutions I had the dubious pleasure of being incarcerated in at the time, I can think of at least thirty young people who took their lives, perhaps the most tragic and traumatic for me was the suicide of a friend who lay down on the railway tracks as a train was coming.

I can paraphrase the statement, included in the HIA Inquiry, of a Behavioural Psychologist who stated that the regime at Hydebank would have been good training for members of Ghengis Khan's army trudging the Russian Steppes but totally unsuited to rehabilitate offenders into lawful citizens in a peaceful North of Ireland. He continued in the same vein by stating that for prisoners it was a recipe for sociopathy and a loss of humanity.

I wholly concur.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry wound up its findings by offering those who'd suffered abuse £10,000 in compensation late last year or a further hearing to award possibly higher levels of compensation. Although I was told I would have been a candidate for substantially more compensation, I just took the initial sum that was offered rather than prolong the process. What can really 'compensate' a person for such treatment in reality?

My final thoughts are for those victims who did not make it this far, who took their own lives or died violent deaths. The vast majority of perpetrators of the most heinous crimes against some of the most vulnerable individuals in society have either died of natural causes, no doubt with full religious ceremony and gleamingly eulogized or are still walking the streets as free men ostensively as pillars of their communities.

If there is indeed a 'God' he certainly was not on our side.

HIA Inquiry Redress Board Witness Statement (personal details and specifics redacted)

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HMP Hydebank YOC

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Despair by Mats Eriksson

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Postscript

After spending time in the places of detention mentioned above, I later 'graduated' to two much more secure adult prisons until I was aged twenty-one. Many of the screws (guards) used to take great delight in telling me I'd eventually spend the rest of my life in their filthy prisons.

Despite such 'positive' encouragement from dullard turnkeys, on release, I then went to night classes to gain my 'A' Level exams in less than a year, which would then allow me to attend university if I achieved the required grades. I achieved good grades in my 'A' Levels, was admitted to university and graduated with honours.

My thoughts are with those of my former peers. As I mentioned earlier, many died violently or took their own lives in despair. Without a doubt the treatment they received in the institutions they were incarcerated in contributed to their later actions. Some are still involved in serious crime and by now would probably be classed as recidivists and institutionalised. At the HIA Inquiry, one of the prison functionaries outdid himself in the dullard stakes by actually talking about prisoners at Hydebank who were 'success stories!' I often see these 'success stories in the court's section of the media and the only 'success that I have witnessed in these damaged individuals is that the offences they have most recently been charged with are 'successively more serious each time they appear in court.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Liam A Ryan

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