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De La Salle brothers apologise for abuse

AN order of Catholic Brothers has apologised to boys abused in their care in an opening submission to the inquiry into historical institutional abuse.

Two children's homes run by the Catholic de La Salle order are among 13 being investigated by the inquiry which held a second day of hearings yesterday.

A barrister acting for the de la Salle order said they "accept and deeply regret that boys in their care were abused".

The order ran St Patrick's Training School in west Belfast, which was a juvenile justice centre, and de La Salle Boys' Home, rubane House, in Kircubbin, Co down.

The Sisters of Nazareth also apologised "unreservedly for any abuse suffered by children in their care".

Four children's homes, which were run by the order of nuns in Belfast and Derry, are part of the inquiry which is the largest of its kind in the UK and could cost up to £19 million.

The inquiry is investigating allegations of sexual, physical and emotional abuse in state, voluntary and Church-run institutions between 1922 and 1995.

More than 300 victims are set to testify to the three-member panel during hearings which are expected to last 18 months. Representing the de la Salle order, Kevin Rooney QC said the brothers recognised that some of their members had caused "immense pain" to children which was "in contradiction to their vocation".

"First and foremost the brothers would wish to say publicly at the outset of this inquiry that they accept and deeply regret that boys in their care were abused," he said.

"They wish to offer their sincere and unreserved apology to all those whom they failed to protect...

"The brothers recognise the immense pain and suffering and damage caused to those victims who have been abused.

"The brothers recognise the sense of betrayal that the victims have experienced and the violation of trust caused by certain brothers within the order. They recognise that there have been failures to protect the victims."

Mr rooney said the order "deeply regrets" the action of some members which had "irreparably damaged" its reputation and undermined "the selfless care provided by so many of the brothers in pursuance of their vocation".

The inquiry also heard an admission for the Sisters of Nazareth.

Turlough Montague QC said the order has been "appalled and shocked" by the experiences people have recounted to the inquiry team.

"They apologise unreservedly for any abuse suffered by children in their care. They go forward hoping that lessons will be learned not just by them in the provision of care but also by carers generally in society and the wider society at large," he said.

Mr Montague said the sisters were "very anxious to ensure full co-operation with the inquiry" and "have already begun their period of reflection on the past".

The Health and Social Care Board legal representative Moira Smyth also apologised to those affected "where the board failed to meet acceptable standards for the care and upbringing of children in institutions and that resulted in wrong-doing".

A solicitor for the department of Justice said the department recognised that childhood abuse "can stunt potential and trigger a down

ward spiral in which the victim may suffer lifelong physical and psychological impairment, educational underachievement and economic disad-vantage".

Almost half of the institutions being examined were run by the Catholic Church.

Senior counsel to the inquiry Christine Smyth QC said that, in light of an admission that abuse occurred, the probe would have to consider "what was known about this, by whom, when and what was done about it".

"What steps were taken to avoid any repetition and how did the congregation deal with the matter generally? Were police involved? If not, why not?" she added. other matters to be considered include how complaints of abuse were dealt with, whether institutions were inspected and background checks carried out on staff, what records were kept, whether children received medical care and if children whose parents could not afford to donate to the institution were treated differently.

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