A public inquiry into alleged child abuse will turn its attention today to a residential home run by evangelical Anglican missionaries in Ireland.
The Irish Church Missions was established to convert Catholics to Protestantism. The conservative organisation ran Manor House Children’s Home near Belfast in Lisburn, Co Down, and had links to the Church of Ireland.
The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry will begin hearing evidence of alleged wrongdoing at the home during public sessions in Banbridge, Co Down.
The missionaries are governed by Anglican evangelical clergy and laity who are concerned for Gospel growth in Ireland.
The HIA is considering harrowing claims of emotional, physical and sexual abuse at 22 institutions in Northern Ireland from 1922 when the state was founded to 1995. It is chaired by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart and is also probing actions at homes run by the Catholic church and the state.
The inquiry was established by Northern Ireland’s power-sharing ministerial Executive and is expected to make recommendations on how to compensate victims.
Proceedings will commence with a brief opening address from Sir Anthony then counsel to the Inquiry, Christine Smith QC, will deliver an overview of matters relating to Manor House. The module of evidence is expected to last one week.
In total, the Inquiry is expected to hear from more than 300 witnesses during public evidence sessions.
It is due to submit its report to ministers in a year’s time.