Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Victims of Donagh still await justice

To the casual visitor Donagh seems unremarkable, just like hundreds of similar villages scattered throughout the Northern Ireland landscape.

But the Fermanagh village hid a terrible secret - a secret that now seems scarcely credible - for more than four decades. Four predatory brothers sexually abused generations of children virtually under the noses of their parents in a catalogue of crimes that shocked the province.

And even after their sordid deeds were brought before the courts, many of their victims have been left asking if justice has really been done. One brother hanged himself as his trial began and another jailed for nine years. Two others were deemed mentally unfit to stand trial and were released back into the community where they terrorised youngsters for decades. While they are subject to supervision and treatment orders, their victims, understandably, fear for the future.

The brothers live opposite a children's playground and a short distance from a youth club. Every parent will now wonder if their children will be safe. How can they be supervised every hour of every day and what treatment is available for paedophiles, whatever their mental state?

For those living outside the area, the burning question is how did the brothers go undetected for so long. Normally there are few secrets in small rural villages, but it is inconceivable that anyone colluded in keeping this horrendous litany of abuse under wraps for so long. At least 50 young people were abused, according to one victim.

These men have brought lasting ignominy onto their family and left scores of distressed children, many of them now grown into adulthood, in their wake. What services are now available from the statutory authorities to help those victims come to terms with the abuse they suffered and to help them face the prospect of meeting their abusers on the narrow streets of Donagh? And how will the villagers react to the fact that unchallenged evil lived in their midst for so long.

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