Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry to focus on notorious paedophile priest Brendan Smyth

May 12th, 2015

The convicted priest Brendan Smyth is to be subjected to a specific section as part of a massive inquiry into institutional sex abuse.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry also announced on Monday that three new institutions – Hydebank Wood Young Offenders’ Centre in Belfast and Fort James Children’s Home in Ardmore Road and Harberton House ssessment entre in Irish Street both in Derry – are also to be looked into. HI Chairman Sir Anthony Hart said the extra parts to the large-scale probe will bring “the total of homes and matters to be investigated to 18”.

He said Module 6 “will examine issues arising from the actions of Fr Brendan Smyth in a number of homes in Northern Ireland, actions which have been described by a number of witnesses who have already given evidence to the Inquiry”. Smyth died of a heart attack in prison in August 1997, just a month into a 12 year prison sentence for a raft of offences against children. The inquiry heard details today of when various institutions are expected to feature. Module 5, will start on June 8 and focus on Fort James Children’s Home and Harberton House ssessment entre.

Both were under the remit of the former Western Health and Social Services Board and have since closed. Module 7 will focus on four juvenile justice institutions – St Patrick’s Training School, Belfast; Lisnevin Training School, County Down; Rathgael raining School, Bangor; and Hydebank Wood Young Offenders’ Centre, Belfast. This module will start on September 1 and is expected to last until November. The Inquiry’s eighth module will focus on two former children’s homes run by the children’s charity, Barnardo’s; the Sharonmore Project and Macedon, both in Newtownabbey.

This module will be heard in December and finish the Inquiry’s business for 2015. The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry was established in January 2013 by the Stormont Executive with a remit to investigate child abuse in residential institutions in Northern Ireland over a 73-year period up to 1995. he inquiry is expected to hear from more than 300 witnesses during the course of the public evidence sessions.

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