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Dunmurry Manor families in rally at health watchdog's HQ

By Lisa Smyth

The families of Dunmurry Manor residents are holding a protest outside Northern Ireland's health watchdog today.

Relatives of those who suffered at the Belfast care home have called once again for the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) to admit its part in the scandal.

It comes after its chief executive Olive MacLeod responded to the findings of a damning report into conditions at Dunmurry Manor by saying the RQIA did not fail in its duty to protect residents.

Her stance angered relatives of former residents after the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland branded the care at Dunmurry Manor inhumane and degrading.

Julieann McNally, whose grandmother lived there, said a refusal by the RQIA to accept its part in what went wrong is adding to the families' distress.

"That's why we are having a protest," she said. "We want the RQIA to take their share of the failings and open lines of communication with families around change."

Mrs McNally said, given the reaction by the RQIA to the findings of the commissioner's report to date, families are concerned the recommendations will not be implemented by RQIA. "We're worried that nothing is going to change and this could happen again," she added.

After publication of the report last week, Ms Macleod issued an outspoken defence of the watchdog. She said: "RQIA does not agree with some of the commissioner's conclusions.

"Most seriously, we found no evidence of institutional abuse and do not believe that the commissioner's findings support this statement."

She also said RQIA was "very concerned" at how the commissioner had presented findings of sexual abuse.

"Disinhibited sexualised behaviour is not uncommon in people with dementia," she said, adding that it is "not regarded as criminal activity".

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