Northern Ireland

Former patient John Rooney 'haunted' by Lissue House abuse

John Rooney
Image caption John Rooney said his memories of Lissue House were of beatings and humiliation

A former patient at Lissue House Children's Hospital in Lisburn has said his memories of the abuse that took place there are frightening.

John Rooney, now a boxing promoter in London, said he is particularly haunted by what happened to a friend of his who suffered from anorexia.

The boy, named Eamon, was weighed every morning and made to stay in bed if he had not gained any weight.

He was also frequently beaten by one male nurse.

"I saw this guy lifting him off the floor and throwing him against the wall," Mr Rooney said.

"The beatings were not a smack or a cuff around the ear, they were physical beatings.

"Eamon was like a little doll... for a grown man to beat him the way he did. The treatment of that kid was totally barbaric."

He said his friend, who was not allowed to speak to his parents if he did not gain weight, later died at the age of 18.

Mr Rooney, originally from west Belfast, was admitted to Lissue after his parents split up in 1978 when he was nine.

Report into abuse

He said that while he was no angel, he was not suffering from any illness and should not have been put there.

Lissue and another hospital, Forster Green in Belfast, were the subject of a report in 2009 on allegations of abuse in the 1980s and 90s.

In a statement, police said they had carried out a number of investigations into alleged abuse over a number of years and would carry out a review of all available information.

Image caption The abuse took place at Lissue Children's Hospital near Lisburn

Mr Rooney said his experience of the hospital was of humiliation and beatings.

"They just need to bring these things out into the open and the people who are guilty should be brought to justice," he said.

"It happened everywhere, but what I wonder is how they got away with it.

"It's an outrage that ordinary people with wives and kids of their own can do the things that they did and then sweep them under the carpet."

He said he had not talked about what happened in Lissue for 30 years, until he contacted the Irish News newspaper after recent stories about the report into the abuse.

"The day I spoke to the reporter I was in pieces all day," he said.

"It's something that really tears me apart and I think it should be investigated thoroughly."

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