Belfast Telegraph

Scandal of the paedophile brothers sharing ward with vulnerable adults

By Lindy McDowell

Good news — two paedophile brothers who abused children in the Fermanagh village of Donagh have voluntarily admitted themselves for treatment in a psychiatric unit. Bad news — they can voluntarily un-admit themselves any time they choose.

And almost unbelievably (were this not Northern Ireland where official craziness is par for the course) the pair are now being housed in a unit where young people with severe learning difficulties are also being treated.

The men at the centre of the scandal had been back in their home (much to the understandable distress of villagers) after having been declared mentally unfit for trial in connection with a litany of truly awful crimes.

But bizarrely they are regarded as mentally fit to decide whether they require mental treatment ...

What sort of ludicrous system is it that allows two men who are known to pose a very great danger to children to take the decision themselves about whether they should live in the community?

What sort of heartless system is it that disregards the suffering of victims? And the very real fears of parents whose children now share a hospital ward with the brothers.

If these men had broken children’s limbs they would surely have been removed from the community by the authorities to safeguard the public. (You’d like to think so, anyway.) Why is sex abuse regarded differently?

The law needs to be changed — and fast.

In the meantime these men should be moved to a place where they are not in contact with vulnerable young patients. However great the supervision, the fact is that families of other patients do have understandable fears

They should not have to go through such unwarranted anguish. The whole thing is utterly, utterly wrong.

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