Northern Ireland

Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry: Child abused in care of Presbyterian Church in Australia

The inquiry's public hearings are taking place at Banbridge courthouse
Image caption The inquiry's public hearings are taking place at Banbridge courthouse

A pensioner has told an inquiry examining child abuse that he was physically and sexually abused as a young boy while in the care of the Presbyterian Church in Australia.

His migration was part of a scheme between the Presbyterian Church in the UK and Australia.

Speaking to the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry via video link, he outlined his childhood.

He is one of about 50 witnesses giving evidence from Australia.

The man said he was born into the Church of Ireland in west Tyrone in the 1940s to an unmarried mother.

When his mother died of TB, he was taken into a number of foster and care homes before being separated from his brother and sister and sent to Australia in 1950.

The witness said he wanted his brother to join him in Australia, but after being abused, he sent a letter home telling his brother not to come.

"I couldn't put him through that," he told the inquiry.

The HIA chairman strongly rebuked government and voluntary agencies over delays in providing documents to the inquiry.

Sir Anthony Hart said it was not satisfactory that documents were being provided "days or even hours" before witnesses are due to give evidence.

He said it was causing "considerable distress" to some witnesses.

Sir Anthony said he was sorry to have to interrupt proceedings "to ram this message home", but added that it was necessary to let witnesses and the public know that the problems were "not of our making."

His comments came after it emerged, during video evidence on Wednesday morning from a witness in Australia, that relevant documents were only provided to the inquiry on Tuesday, by the Health and Social Care Board.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionTony Costa said his childhood had been "robbed"

The HIA inquiry is examining the extent of child abuse in religious and state-run institutions in NI from 1922 to 1995.

On Monday, the inquiry heard that 131 children from Northern Ireland, some as young as five, were sent to Australia as child migrants.

Their evidence is due to be heard either by video link or in written statements over the next few weeks.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites