Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry

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The 2014-2016 Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, often referred to as the HIA Inquiry,[1] is the largest inquiry into historical institutional sexual and physical abuse of children in UK legal history. Its remit covers institutions in Northern Ireland that provided residential care for children from 1922 to 1995,[2] but excludes most church-run schools.[3] The Inquiry was set up in response to the Inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse Act (Northern Ireland) 2013. Following a request to extend its timescale, the Inquiry's Report was delivered to the First Minister and deputy First Minister (who had no powers to change it) on 6 January 2017, shortly before the deadline of 18 January, and published on 20 January.[4] The cost was estimated at £17-19m, with 30 people working on the enquiry according to its Frequently Asked Questions as of January 2017. There are provisions for witness support.[3] The Inquiry had statutory powers to compel witnesses living in Northern Ireland to appear before it and evidence held in Northern Ireland to be given to it; to take evidence under oath; and to be held in public except where necessary to protect individuals' privacy. Inquiry Rule 14(3) does not allow any explicit or significant criticism of a person unless the chairperson has sent them a warning letter, with a reasonable opportunity to respond.[5]

Victims and survivors are represented by the Inquiry's legal team at hearings; other witness may have their own legal representatives. Only the Inquiry legal team questions witnesses, and victims and survivors will not normally be cross examined by anyone else except in extremely unusual cases.

The Inquiry concluded its hearings on 8 July 2016 and released its report on 20 January 2017.[4][6]

Scope of Inquiry

The Inquiry said that it would investigate the following Institutions, but that it might later decide to investigate others:[3]

  • Local Authority Homes
    • Lissue Children's Unit, Lisburn
    • Kincora Boys' Home, Belfast
    • Bawnmore Children’s Home, Newtownabbey
  • Juvenile Justice Institutions (formerly Industrial and Reformatory Schools, effectively children's detention centres)
    • St Patrick’s Training School, Belfast
    • Lisnevin Training School, County Down
    • Rathgael Training School, Bangor
  • Secular Voluntary Homes
    • Barnardo's Sharonmore Project, Newtownabbey
    • Barnardo's Macedon, Newtownabbey
  • Roman Catholic Voluntary Homes

The inquiry covers residential care, but specifically does not cover other cases of clerical abuse, or most church-run schools[3]

The Inquiry's hearings are held in the former Banbridge courthouse; the opening hearing was held on 13 January 2014, with open oral testimony to finish in June 2015[needs update], and with the inquiry team reporting to the Executive by the start of 2016[needs update].[2] Hearings are divided into modules:

  • Module 1 into the Sisters of Nazareth Homes in Derry (27 January 2014 to 29 May 2014)
  • Module 2 Child Migrant Programme, which forcibly sent children from NI institutions to Australia where they were often maltreated and exploited
  • Module 3 De La Salle Boys Home - Rubane House, from 29 September 2014,[1][7] with closing submissions on 17 December 2014.
  • Module 4, on Sisters of Nazareth Belfast - Nazareth House and Lodge, started on 5 January 2015.
  • Module 5 covers Fort James Children's Home of Ardmore Road and Harberton House Assessment Centre of Irish Street, both in Derry.
  • Module 6 relates to Fr. Brendan Smyth, who abused children in parishes in Belfast, and also in Dublin and the United States.[1]
  • Module 7 - Juvenile Justice Institutions
  • Module 8 - Barnardo's
  • Module 9 - Manor House Home, Lisburn
  • Module 10 - Millisle Borstal
  • Module 11 - St Joseph's Training School, Middletown
  • Module 12 - Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd (the "Good Shepherd Sisters"), which ran institutions which provided residential accommodation for children in Belfast, Derry and Newry
  • Module 13 - Lissue Hospital
  • Module 14 - Governance and Finance
  • Module 15 - Kincora and Bawnmore

Evidence called and transcripts are available on the HIA Web site.[1]

The Inquiry examined allegations relating to the former Kincora Boys' Home from 31 May to 9 July 2016,[8] including claims that there was a paedophile ring at the home with links to the intelligence services; Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said that all state agencies would co-operate with the inquiry.[9]


On 20 January 2017 the Inquiry chairman Sir Anthony Hart, a retired Judge, announced the release of the Report.[4][6] He "..outlined a series of recommendations after he revealed shocking levels of sexual, physical and emotional abuse in the period 1922 to 1995."[10]

He said that all documents considered relevant and without private information would be placed on the Web site, starting before the report was released, but warning that it would take some time before the task was completed.

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry Web site
  2. ^ a b BBC News: Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry - the background, 13 January 2014
  3. ^ a b c d Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry Web site: Frequently asked questions
  4. ^ a b c Sir Anthony Hart, Chairman (20 January 2017). "The Historical institutional Abuse Inquiry". Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  5. ^ "Latest News". Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry. 29 July 2016. Retrieved 2 August 2016.
  6. ^ a b "Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry - Report". Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry. 20 January 2017. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  7. ^ Belfast Telegraph: Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry examines Australian migration, 14 August 2014
  8. ^ "Kincora & Bawnmore Detailed Timetable, Witness Statements, Evidence & Transcripts". 29 July 2016. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  9. ^ "Kincora Boys' Home: Inquiry to examine abuse claims - BBC News". BBC. 31 May 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  10. ^ RTE news, 20 January, 2017
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