|The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry is carrying out public hearings at |
Banbridge Courthouse in Co Down. Picture by Arthur Allison, Pacemaker
A SERVING soldier admitted abusing a boy from a residential home run by Anglican missionaries in Northern Ireland but was never prosecuted, a public inquiry lawyer has said.
The serviceman first came to Northern Ireland at the start of the Troubles in 1969 and visited Manor House Children's Home near Belfast to take children on day trips and play football, his testimony to police said.
Stormont's power-sharing administration has established an independent probe which has received allegations of physical and sexual wrongdoing at the institution run by the Society for the Irish Church Missions to the Roman Catholics.
Christine Smith QC, counsel for the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry, said one alleged perpetrator was later interviewed by police.
"He took children on day trips, played football, and admitted having feelings for MH41 (one of the residents).
"He admitted abusing MH41 at his own home."
The alleged victim also claimed the accused's wife had sex with him.
The soldier later joined the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR) in 1977.
In 2004 no prosecution was directed for the alleged early 1970s abuse, Ms Smith said.
She earlier outlined the issues at the home: "Complaints of physical and sexual abuse, physical abuse by staff and sexual abuse by visitors."
A member of staff accused of sexual abuse is dead. Ms Smith said mistreatment was alleged by the children's peers.
The Society for the Irish Church Missions to the Roman Catholics was established to convert Catholics to Protestantism.
It ran Manor House Children's Home in Lisburn, Co Down, from 1927 to 1984 and had links to the Church of Ireland.
There was also claims of "sexual touching" among children at Manor House and in one case a girl was allegedly sexually assaulted by another child. He was moved to a different home.
In another case one offender was on bail for an offence at a home run by Barnardo's, when he was accused of another assault involving a Manor House resident.
Six people have made allegations to the inquiry of physical and sexual abuse.
Two of the witnesses have already given public evidence during an earlier module of the investigation concerning the transfer of child migrants to Australia.
Testimony is due to be taken from three people who resided at Manor House in the mid to late 1960s, while another was there for a year in the early 1970s.
The inquiry began hearing evidence of alleged wrongdoing at the home during public sessions in Banbridge, Co Down, on Monday.
Founded in the mid-1800s, bishops and archbishops were constant patrons but more recently growing ecumenism left many in the church feeling outreach to Catholics was "politically incorrect", the lawyer added. The organisation has had no involvement in provision of residential child care in Northern Ireland for more than 30 years.
The missionaries included Anglican evangelical clergy and laity in Ireland, Ms Smith told the inquiry panel.
The module of evidence is expected to last one week.
The HIA is considering harrowing claims of emotional, physical and sexual abuse at 22 institutions in Northern Ireland from 1922, when the state was founded, to 1995. It is chaired by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart and is also probing actions at homes run by the Catholic church and the state.
In total, the Inquiry is expected to hear from more than 300 witnesses during public evidence sessions.
The inquiry was established by Northern Ireland's power-sharing ministerial Executive and is expected to make recommendations on how to compensate victims.
Retired judge Sir Anthony Hart is leading the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA) into child abuse in residential institutions between 1922 and 1995.
While the inquiry's investigative work is not scheduled to finish until next summer, with a report due to be submitted to Stormont ministers in January 2017, Sir Anthony said he would recommend compensation.
"Because our investigations are not complete we are not yet in a position to say what our findings of systemic failings will be, or what all our recommendations will be," he said.
"However, what we can now say is that from the evidence we have heard so far we will recommend that there should be a scheme to award financial compensation to those children who suffered abuse in children's homes and other institutions in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1995."
6 more institutions to be investigated
Sir Anthony also announced the names of a further six institutions to be investigated, bringing the total number to 22.
The additional institutions are: Manor House (a children's home near Lisburn); Millisle Borstal; St Joseph's Training School for Girls (at Middletown, Co Armagh); and three Good Shepherd convents in Derry, Belfast and Newry.