Belfast Telegraph

'Lessons learned' from abuse case

Stormont's health minister has pledged to learn from the controversial case of two paedophile brothers allowed to move back to the scene of their crimes after an investigation broadly backed the actions of care workers.

Michael McGimpsey welcomed the findings of the independent report on his staff's handling of serial abusers James and Owen Roe McDermott but acknowledged the need to promote greater understanding of the complex issues around it.

There was a public outcry in the Co Fermanagh village of Donagh when a judge permitted the brothers, who have learning disabilities, to return to live there after being deemed mentally unfit to stand trial.

The Western Health and Social Care Trust came in for particular criticism over its advice to the judge, which approved the accommodation. The men have since voluntarily admitted themselves to hospital care.

A report by the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA), commissioned by Mr McGimpsey in the wake of the controversy, found that trust employees had properly discharged their responsibilities in relation to the case.

"It is clear from the report that the Western Trust fulfilled its statutory duties and responsibilities in relation to this case," said the minister. "I accept that there is learning which is relevant to all Health and Social Care organisations, and to partner organisations in education and criminal justice."

The judge issued two court orders on the brothers - a Sexual Offences Prevention Order and Supervision and Treatment Order.

While the former was a matter largely for the law and agencies, the latter was an issue for the trust, in particular how and where supervised treatment would be administered to the men.

The RQIA probe did not express a view on the trust`s conclusion that the brothers could receive treatment in their home in Donagh, but on whether staff had followed all procedures and requirements needed to make such an assessment.

It found that health and social care workers had also performed their duties correctly in regard to the treatment of the brothers and over child and public protection issues.

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