Order accepts Fr Brendan Smyth abused children in North homes
Fr Smyth visited two south Belfast residential homes at the centre of the independent investigation into wrongdoing stretching back decades. He was later convicted of dozens of child abuse charges over a 40-year period .
More than 100 witnesses from Nazareth House and Nazareth Lodge have come forward to the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry, headed by a former judge.
Senior counsel to the inquiry Christine Smith QC said: “Sexual abuse of children was perpetrated by the now notorious Fr Brendan Smyth.”
“There will be evidence given in this module that he abused children both in Nazareth House and in Nazareth Lodge in Belfast,” she said.
Sr Brenda McCall, a senior figure in the Sisters of Nazareth order which ran the now closed Nazareth House and Nazareth Lodge in South Belfast, gave a statement to the inquiry.
Ms Smith said: “She states that the congregation accepts that Brendan Smyth did abuse children while they were in our care and continued to abuse some after they left our care.
“She also accepts that he visited both Nazareth House and Nazareth Lodge.”
Outside the hearing Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland director Patrick Corrigan said: “It has already been established that among the abusers was notorious serial paedophile Father Brendan Smyth, who was allowed to use both children’s homes as a personal playground for his depravity.
“It is clear that the abuse suffered by the children at these two Belfast homes represents a monumental failure by both religious and state institutions in Northern Ireland.”
Thirteen institutions are being considered by the inquiry panel headed by Sir Anthony Hart, which is tasked with making recommendations to Stormont ministers on issues such as compensating alleged victims of physical and sexual abuse and neglect.
The Sisters of Nazareth have been subjected to stinging criticism from former residents at two homes they ran in Derry.
Despite evidence of relatively progressive conditions similar allegations have been repeated by those who lived in the two Belfast homes; Nazareth House which closed its doors in 2000 and Nazareth Lodge which stopped accepting children in 1998.
Some alleged they had been humiliated, punished for bed wetting, locked in cupboards and beaten daily.
In 1984 an investigation was launched after claims children were put in a room with dead cockroaches, food was received from a supermarket which was not acceptable to the general public and at Nazareth Lodge soap was allegedly broken up and put in a boy’s mouth so that he retched after swearing.
Ms Smith QC quoted one witness, saying: “The nuns were at best indifferent and most often sadistic bullies who spoke with harsh, loud voices in scornful, dismissive tones.”