A Portadown-born man living in Jersey has described the apology by the island’s chief minister – and the proposed demolition of the former home where the worst of the child abuse occurred - as “simply the latest phase of a sickening cover-up.”
Charlie Douglas (79) who lives within a two-minute walk of the notorious Haut de la Garennne former children’s home, said, “The chief minister (Senator Terry Le Sueur) appeared on television and offered an unreserved apology.
“It was also stated the that building would be demolished to erase memories of decades of abuse – physical, emotional and sexual. But this is not enough. There’s a mentality in Jersey that a line can now be drawn under it all, and the abusers can be absolved.
“The building housed children who were badly abused for decades. If they wet the bed, they had to lie naked between sheets packed with nettles. There was widespread sexual and emotional abuse. It was widely known that the children’s homes here did not develop with the outside world – that the abusive regime was devoid of wellbeing and happiness.
“These measures are simply cosmetic. No apology will wipe the abuse from memories, and knocking down a listed building will achieve nothing. I ran a football school in the former home and it is now a youth hostel. The way things work in Jersey, they’ll knock it down and build houses for profit.”
A damning report of the inquiry was made public this week. It stated that ill-suited carers looked after children in unsuitable facilities, using outdated practices – the consequences for the children were devastating and in many instances lifelong.”
Charlie shone a light on the situation for the Portadown Times back in 2008, after he moved to the Channel Island with his Jersey-born wife Patrice, since deceased.
He said “The man who tried to expose what he saw as an injustice (former minister for health and social services Stuart Syvret) was sacked for voicing his concerns
“He claimed that children were routinely punched in the head, flogged with birch canes and locked in solitary confinement for days or even weeks.
“He also stated that others were sexually attacked, leaving them with deep psychological scars.”
Charlie Douglas - who spent years on the national showbusiness circuit as comedian Charlie Daze - was a member of a family of 13 brought up in the Edgarstown area and played football for Portadown before moving to England and entering showbiz.
He sprang to prominence in 1978 when he won Hughie Green’s ‘Opportunity Knocks’.
He was a star of ‘The Comedians’ with the like of Frank Carson.
He isn’t surprised that the scandal has come home to haunt the entire holiday island, “where the powers-that-be did all in their power to sweep under the carpet.”