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Mounting pressure on MSPs to act - Child abuse victims call for inquiry

By Jackie Bytheway, Sunday Post, 28/11/2004

AS the Scottish Parliament prepares to debate abuse in children's homes on Wednesday, pressure is mounting for a public inquiry.

Chris Daly, from Rutherglen, has been the driving force behind getting the issue to Parliament.

He was in care at Nazareth House in Aberdeen for four years, starting when he was just nine years old.

Conditions were so bad that he ran away when he was 13.

Chris (40) had lobbied his MSP to voice his concerns and have questions asked, but he realised the best way was to petition Parliament himself.

He said, "It's a way forward for us and lets us get our foot in the door so that these issues can be aired."

Systematic

Chris and his three brothers and sister were put into care when their dad was admitted to hospital for long-term care.

His mum couldn't cope with looking after the five of them. An older brother had joined the RAF and a sixth brother was living at home but working.

Chris remembers only too well the systematic abuse in the home.

One night he was forced to stand in the snow wearing only his underpants.

His crime was having a pillow fight with the four other boys in his dormitory.

The regime laid down by the nuns was that the children should have been ready for bed, in their pyjamas, kneeling saying prayers as the nuns came into their room.

"The nun came into chaos and we were in various states of undress.

"She shouted, 'This is not a nudist colony' and took us all outside one by one, isolated us and made us stand in the snow," recalled Chris.

He added, "There was a lot of punching and kicking while I was there.

"I had constant panic attacks, was sick every morning and often had dizzy spells. I now know that was down to fear. We were taught to fear God and fear the nuns."

Freezing cold

One morning he was sick and was only wearing his school shirt and pants. The sister made him stand outside in the freezing cold as punishment. As a result of his harsh treatment, he fled the institution.

Chris was eventually put into another home in Glasgow which he said was much better.

"I will be at the debate which is really important as it will air our issues publicly for the first time.

"We need the state to apologise for what happened and then for the churches to apologise, too.

"We need an inquiry to find out why it happened and answer our questions.

"An inquiry was held in Ireland and one has been held in Australia. If these governments can do it, why can't ours?"

His MSP, Janis Hughes, said, "I am intending to speak at the debate.

"A huge number of people have been affected by this and they have questions they want answered.

"The main question is, 'Why did this happen?'"

Last week we reported how Elizabeth McWilliams was abused while in the care of Quarriers Homes in Bridge of Weir.

Her story touched a nerve with many readers and we were inundated with calls.

Kath White lives in Orkney. Her husband was in Quarriers Homes from the age of nine months until he was 10.

Traumatised

He was abused and the experience has left him deeply traumatised. So much so that he still wakes up screaming in the night.

One man who called wanted to remain anonymous.

He and his sister were put into Quarriers in 1969 when their parents split up.

He was sexually abused by house father John Porteous, who was jailed for eight years in November 2002.

He gave evidence at the trial. He said, "It was one of the hardest things I have had to go through."

He has had a lot of counselling throughout his life as he has had problems with his sexuality and battled with drink.

"I had problems with drink when I was younger but I got them sorted out," he said.

Disobeyed

His sister was also in the home. She had her head smashed against a sink by Porteous when he flew into a rage after she disobeyed him by refusing to wear what he had chosen.

The force of the blow broke her nose.

His sister complained to Porteous's boss about the treatment. But she was removed from the home and her brother didn't see her for four years.

He added, "The regime was so strict and so religious.

"If you had a mind and you questioned things you brought trouble on yourself."

He vividly remembers living in fear of Porteous and being locked in a cold, dark outhouse building for punishment, wearing only his pyjamas.

"We were placed in the home for our protection by the state.

"We should have been protected from these people," he said.

 
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