Belfast Telegraph

Victims of paedophiles seek inquiry

Victims of two notorious paedophile brothers in Northern Ireland have demanded an independent investigation into how they were allowed to return to the village where they committed their reign of abuse.

The events and decisions that led up James and Owen-Roe McDermott moving back into the family home in Donagh, Co Fermanagh, where they targeted children over a 30-year period, must be rigorously examined by a senior lawyer, according to a group representing the abused.

The pair were judged mentally unfit to stand trial and two subsequent court orders enabled them to return to live in Donagh, prompting a public outcry.

While the brothers have now voluntarily admitted themselves into residential care, the fall-out from the controversy has seen Stormont's health and justice ministers both launch separate probes.

But the victims said both departments' accounts of the case "varied considerably" and they had been left "bewildered and confused" by what actually went wrong.

The Donagh Community Forum and Victims Representatives said it was time a non-governmental legal expert investigated the events.

"We call for an independent senior counsel to examine all the evidence placed before the trial judge before the making of the orders and the out-workings of the orders thereafter," said a spokeswoman for the group. This may go someway to discovering what actually happened."

On Monday, Justice Minister David Ford launched an inquiry into how other sex cases are dealt with in Northern Ireland to see if lessons can be learned from the Donagh case.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Michael McGimpsey rejected claims that his staff were involved in approving the accommodation, insisting it was a decision taken by the court.

Mr McGimpsey has, however, initiated an internal review of how the case was handled by the Western Health and Social Care Trust.

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