Northern Ireland

Rubane House: Sex abuse inquiry 'best forgotten' said senior cleric

HIA at Banbridge courthouse
Image caption The inquiry is taking place at Banbridge Courthouse

A senior member of a religious order who investigated claims of sex abuse at a children's home in County Down in 1958 said it was "best forgotten", an inquiry has heard.

The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry is examining allegations of abuse at Rubane House, Kircubbin.

On Tuesday, the inquiry was told four boys raised the alarm about abuse at the Catholic home 56 years ago.

They told the De La Salle Order that the brother in charge abused them.

The abuser is now dead.

Following the allegations, a senior member of the order was sent to Rubane to investigate.

Afterwards, new rules were introduced, including an order to brothers to put less emphasis on sex education.

'Best forgotten'

The inquiry heard that in a letter to the brother against whom the allegations were made, the senior cleric referred to one boy's accusations and assured him: "Don't think for a moment that I am accepting his word against yours."

He added: "I advise that no reference is to be made at any time or to anyone regarding the inquiry, it is best forgotten and I have told some brothers that no reference is to be made to it among themselves or the boys.

"The whole affair is best dropped."

The inquiry estimates that 200 of Rubane's 1,050 former residents have made allegations of serious sexual or physical abuse.

A total of 13 Northern Ireland institutions are being investigated.

The Kircubbin home was run by the De La Salle religious order, which has already accepted some children were abused.

A lawyer acting for the inquiry said more than 200 children had claimed they were abused at Rubane House, which was open from 1950 to 1985.

A total of 55 former residents have come forward to the inquiry to allege that they were physically or sexually abused.

Their public testimony will begin next week.

The HIA inquiry was set up in 2013 to investigate child abuse in residential institutions in Northern Ireland over a 73-year period, up to 1995.

The Rubane House allegations form the third module of its public hearings.

It had previously been examining what happened to children sent from Northern Ireland to institutions in Australia.

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