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Abuse victim urges others to speak out

By Evan Short

BY Evan Short
An Ardoyne man who gave evidence to the Historical Abuse Inquiry on his rape and beatings while resident in one of the North’s most notorious homes says he is breaking his silence in the hope that other victims will come forward.
Gabriel McCormick spent time during the 1960s at Rubane House on the Ards Peninsula, a home run by the De La Salle Christian Brothers which is one focus of the ongoing Historical Abuse Inquiry taking place in Banbridge.
The 61-year-old, who spent time in a number of institutions following the death of his mother when he was just three, was a resident at Rubane House for just six months at the age of 12. Gabriel told the inquiry how he was subjected to horrific physical and sexual abuse during that time by two Brothers, named in the inquiry as ‘Brother A’ and ‘Brother B’.
“I was left alone for a week and then there was a sudden change.”
This change took place after he got into a fight with another boy, according to Gabriel’s testimony.
“Brother ‘A’ saw this and brought me over to the school, took out a cane and told me to bend over. When I told him I wouldn’t bend over he hit me all over with the cane. When he stopped I shouted at him and he hit me again. I shouted at him again and he told me he was not going to stop until I stopped talking back. He hit me until I passed out. When I came round there was no one there. I crawled up the steps to the school yard and lay across a bench on my stomach. It hurt too much to sit.”
Gabriel said he was constantly getting into fights through fear and anger which brought him to the attention of the Brothers. This meant he was beaten regularly. Then two weeks after the first beating he says he was raped by Brother ‘B’.
“The following Tuesday Brother ‘B’ brought me into one of the classrooms at school for fighting with another boy. He bent me over the table, took down my underpants and raped me. Afterwards he warned me not to tell anyone and just walked away. I did not tell anyone. I thought that it was my fault and that people would call me names if they knew.”
Gabriel testified that the same brother raped him again two weeks later in the school corridor. After six months in the home, he was brought back to Ardoyne to live with relatives and still lives in the district.
Gabriel told the North Belfast News he feels hatred for his abusers and has endured numerous sucicide attempts because of his trauma.
“I hate them. I still have to sleep in a separate bed from my partner because of the nightmares I have. I sleep with the light on and have tried to kill myself 20 times. I suffer severe back pain which I think is from the beatings I got.”
The Duneden Park man says he just wants an apology for the suffering he endured.
“I would like the institutions to apologise for the things that were done to me in care and criminal prosecutions to be brought against the perpetrators.”
In a civil action brought against the De La Salle institution four years ago, Gabriel was awarded £8,000 but he says that all the victims should be awarded compensation.
He also says that he hopes by going public more people will come forward.
“I want the truth to come out and hope that by going public people will see this and come forward with what happened to them.”
An estimated 1,000 boys passed through Rubane House near Kircubbin between 1951 and 1985 when it was closed.
A lawyer for the Historical Abuse Inquiry (HIA) has said around a fifth of those who attended the institution have claimed to be victims of abuse.
The Inquiry is being chaired by Sir Anthony Hart and is being funded by the Stormont Executive.
A laywer acting for The De La Salle congregation of brothers told the HIA that they had paid out compensation in a number of cases and accepted that some members of the congregation did abuse young boys at the home. But they have cast doubt on other claims and said they will seek to protect the reputation, integrity and character of members who did not abuse boys at Rubane.

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