Two Northern Ireland paedophile brothers involved in a “tidal wave” of abuse which rocked a sleepy village were today urged to put themselves forward for hospital treatment.
It emerged at a highly-charged public meeting last night that the Western Health and Social Care Trust had asked James and Owen Roe McDermott to admit themselves for their own welfare.
The pair — who were accused of 19 child sex offences over decades — walked free from court last month after being deemed mentally unfit to stand trial.
They have now returned to Donagh, Co Fermanagh, and are living yards from a children’s playground and youth club in the village.
Between them, four McDermott brothers faced 60 charges of abuse spanning five decades. A third is in prison, while the other killed himself in the village graveyard.
Several hundred people — including parents, victims and members of the extended McDermott family — packed into the community hall for last night’s meeting.
It emerged the pair have been placed in the lowest risk category of sex offenders — category one — meaning their behaviour gives no cause for concern.
But some of the brothers’ victims have concerns there is a high risk posed by their return.
The meeting heard that discussions had been held with the McDermott family to see if the two brothers would go to hospital voluntarily for their own welfare and treatment.
It followed an allegation stones had been thrown at their house.
The family took the request to the High Court, where the trust was told it had no powers to force the brothers to leave, allowing the pair to return to Donagh.
Speaking this morning, Western Trust chief executive Elaine Way, said its options were “very limited”. “The legislation is very clear in terms of what the health and social care trust can do,” she told the BBC.
“There are two different legal orders placed on the brothers — the sexual offences prevention order which the police are monitoring, and the other a supervision and treatment order which does not give the trust the authority to require the brothers to come to hospital.”
She said the attempt to admit the brothers to hospital was made because the trust believed it had a responsibility for their welfare.
The meeting, which lasted around three hours, was heated with angry exchanges at times.
It heard that most people in Donagh wanted the brothers to leave the area.
The area’s police chief, Graham Dodds, said the response of the community so far had been dignified and restrained.
He acknowledged there was anger, adding it was justified.
Mr Dodds also said he would be pressing for a meeting with his bosses today to have the brothers’ category one status reassessed.