Inquiry into alleged child abuse set to publish report

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Northern Ireland's public inquiry into the alleged abuse of children in residential homes is to publish its report later.

Evidence from hundreds of witnesses during 223 days of hearings outlined claims of brutality and sex abuse dating back to the 1920s in institutions run by churches and the state.

Retired judge Sir Anthony Hart chaired an independent panel which investigated, the Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry, helped by a team of lawyers and researchers.

Sir Anthony has already indicated that compensating victims will be among his recommendations.

But it is uncertain when action will be taken as crisis engulfs powersharing at Stormont and as new elections loom.

The public inquiry was ordered by Stormont's ministerial Executive following pressure from alleged victims and similar probes in the Republic of Ireland and elsewhere.

It was created in 2013 to investigate child abuse in residential institutions in Northern Ireland over a 73-year period, up to 1995.

The inquiry finished hearing evidence with an investigation into an alleged paedophile ring that operated at the notorious Kincora boys' home, east Belfast

Earlier, the expert panel heard lurid details about the activities of Fr Brendan Smyth, a serial child molester who frequented Catholic residential homes and was convicted of more than 100 child abuse charges.

Other former residents claimed some Catholic nuns at a Sisters of Nazareth children's home in Northern Ireland were sadistic bullies who did not do enough to protect residents from sexual predators.

A man alleged he was raped by a member of the Catholic De La Salle order of brothers using a piece of equipment for restraining farm animals. Police said sex abuse at Rubane House in Co Down was rife.

Children sent to Australia under a special transportation scheme were treated like baby convicts, witnesses said, deprived of their real identities and shipped without parental consent.

However, a health worker who visited Kincora said she was unaware of the abuse, while a lawyer told the public inquiry fewer than 2% of residents at a Catholic-run training school alleged mistreatment.

Others said they had been well cared for by overworked staff when they had nowhere else to go and when wider society had rejected them because they were born to unmarried mothers or were orphans.

Some were resident during the chaos of 1970s Belfast or Londonderry when The Troubles were at their fiercest.

The inquiry is expected to report before lunchtime and survivors will be there to see the voluminous document launched.