HIA inquiry to investigate former Co Down borstal

HM Borstal Millisle operated at Woburn House from 1956 to 1980
HM Borstal Millisle operated at Woburn House from 1956 to 1980

A child abuse public inquiry is to examine evidence relating to a Co Down detention centre when it convenes again next week.

The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) inquiry will focus its attention on alleged wrongdoing at Millisle Borstal on the Ards Peninsula.

HM Borstal Millisle, situated in Woburn House, Ballywalter Road, opened in July 1956 and closed in December 1980. The Prison Service College now operates on the site.

Former residents of the facility are expected to give evidence during two weeks of public sessions at Banbridge Courthouse.

Proceedings will begin with a short opening from retired High Court judge Sir Anthony Hart, who is chairing the long-running probe, before barrister Joseph Aiken, counsel to the inquiry, gives an overview of the issues relating to Millisle.

The HIA is considering harrowing claims of emotional, physical and sexual abuse at 22 institutions in Northern Ireland over a 73-year period – from 1922 when the state was founded to 1995.

It is also looking into alleged actions at homes run by the state and church, and last November an extra six institutions were added to its remit.

The inquiry was established by Northern Ireland’s power-sharing ministerial Executive and is expected to make recommendations on how to compensate victims.

In total, some 300 witnesses are expected to give evidence during the public sessions.