The Sisters of Nazareth who ran children’s residential accommodation in Derry have been sharply criticised by the inquiry investigating historical institutional abuse.
Senior Counsel Christine Smith told the inquiry that disclosure of documents by the order had been slow, haphazard and piecemeal. “There was a less than whole-hearted response,” to the inquiry’s requests, she alleged.
“Co-operation from the Sisters has not been as complete or as rapid as had been hoped,” she said. Requests for the documentation had led to a flow of “copious correspondence” with the order and this leading to additional work for inquiry staff.
“Material was not stored in a single, well-ordered archive,” Ms Smith told the inquiry in Banbridge which opened public sessions earlier this month.
“Information which has been received has been received in a haphazard and piecemeal fashion despite requests.” She said valuable time had been spent trying to get the material into order. This information “ought to and could have been provided much earlier”.
Documents were also not provided in electronic format, leading to yet more work for the inquiry. She also referred to the tendency of the Sisters of Nazareth to name more than one nun with the same name.
This caused additional difficulties as “considerable time was wasted” trying to work out which nun was which.
However Ms Smith also said the order’s decision to apologise unreservedly was again warmly welcomed. This will have brought some relief and comfort to those who will give evidence, she said.
The first witnesses who will give testimony in relation to the Sisters of Nazareth in Derry will appear tomorrow.