Northern Ireland

Historical Abuse Inquiry: Boy punished for being 'left-handed'

Image caption St Joseph's Home, Termonbacca, was run by the Sisters of Nazareth order of nuns

A former resident at St Joseph's Catholic home, Termonbacca, has told the Historical Abuse Inquiry how he was punished for being left-handed.

Jon McCourt, a high profile campaigner to get the inquiry set up, has waived his right to anonymity.

He also told the inquiry that he did not realise two other boys in a photograph were his brothers.

The inquiry is investigating abuse claims against children's residential institutions in NI from 1922 to 1995.

Termonbacca and another Derry home, Nazareth House, were run by the Sisters of Nazareth.

He told the inquiry on Thursday: "I remember, when I was about five years old, being constantly beaten by one particular nun, to get me to stop writing with my left hand."

He said this was a common practice at the time before adding: "They were messing up with how we were wired."

A photograph was shown of 40 young boys from the home on a day trip at the Guildhall in Londonderry.

He pointed out himself and his two brothers in the photograph, but said he did not know they were his brothers at the time.

When counsel for the inquiry said some of the institutions dispute claims about a lack of family contact at the homes, Mr McCourt replied: "I can't talk about their truth, I know mine".

McCourt also told the inquiry he blamed unionist domination in Londonderry in the 1950s for him ending up in Termonbacca.

He said he spent 10 years in the home "not because my mother didn't love me", but because unionist leaders would not build homes for Catholics in the city.

The inquiry, being held in Banbridge, County Down, is chaired by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart and is considering cases in 13 residential institutions.

Public hearings are due to finish in June 2015, with the inquiry team to report to the Northern Ireland Executive by the start of 2016.

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