Inquiry into Manor House claims

This week the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry turned its attention to claims of abuse at Manor House, the former children’s home in Lisburn.

Manor House, which closed in 1984, was run by the Society of Irish Church Missions (ICM), an organisation with links to the Church of Ireland.

The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry is investigating child abuse in residential institutions in Northern Ireland from 1922 to 1995.

The allegations of abuse relating to Manor House have been made by some former residents who lived at the home during periods in the 1940s, 1960s and 1970s.

They claim the abuse was perpetrated by some staff, visitors and other children at the home.

The inquiry this week heard from two former residents of the Lisburn home, wh0 said they had been abused by a member of the Armed Forces.

One of the witnesses told the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry that the soldier abused him in a playroom and bedroom at Manor House.

He said his alleged abuser bought sweets and gifts for children at the former Church Of Ireland home.

Giving evidence via videolink from Australia, the man, who is now in his 60s, said the soldier “manipulated us children”.

“I think he may have abused other children,” he added.

“I believe we were just pieces of meat to that man that abused me.”

The Society for Irish Church Missions (ICM), which ran Manor House, has issued an unreserved apology for the actions of what it has described as “an opportunistic, determined and devious abuser”.

Another man, also in his early 60’s, described the alleged abuser as “a freak visitor to the home”.

He said the soldier, who was middle-aged at the time, groomed children and carried out sexual abuse “many times”.

The ICM has also apologised to the man and his family “for the hurt suffered”.

The HIA inquiry is investigating the extent of abuse in religious and state-run institutions over a spell of more than 70 years.

Its chairman, the retired senior High Court judge Sir Anthony Hart, is due to submit his report to the Northern Ireland Executive by January 17, 2017.