Belfast Telegraph

Claim 'gang of criminals' prostituted children at Fermanagh care home

Children at a Fermanagh care home were drugged and prostituted it has been claimed. (Niall Carson/PA)
Children at a Fermanagh care home were drugged and prostituted it has been claimed. (Niall Carson/PA)

A gang of criminals allegedly drugged and prostituted children from a Co Fermanagh home, it has been alleged.

The allegations are the latest claims from Impartial Reporter journalist Rodney Edwards' investigation into sexual abuse in the Fermanagh area.

Criminals allegedly prostituted teenagers from a children's home in Killadeas almost 20 years go.

The paper claims that the children were taken to other parts of Northern Ireland where they were drugged and repeatedly raped.

Brindley House was a home catering for young people with emotional and psychological needs.

It opened in 2000 despite protests from local residents and closed just six years later.

The home was managed by private company Care (NI) Ltd.

According to "well-placed sources" staff members who tried to intervene to stop the abuse where threatened by the criminals involved.

The Western Health and Social Services Board said the home was closed as it was "no longer commercially viable to continue operations".

An alleged victim of the abuse spoke to the Impartial Reporter and said that she and up to 12 other young girls were raped by up to 13 men.

Rodney Edwards
Rodney Edwards

She said that the authorities knew about the abuse "but were too scared to do anything because of the men involved".

Laura (not her real name) said she was 13 when the abuse began.

"It was child prostitution. You were being prostituted out," she said.

"You were in a relationship with this person who's portraying to be this person, but you were being prostituted out to all their friends and all their contacts....at 13."

Laura said she was prepared to speak with specialist detectives investigating historical child sex abuse cases in Fermanagh.

She had been called in by police for an interview in connection with the abuse at the time, but opted out of pursuing it due to fears for her safety.

Paula Kane, owner of the now defunct Care (NI) Ltd. told the Impartial Reporter that "every single incident of concern and of a child protection nature was recorded and reported to the Western Board".

"We had no power to investigate," she said.

The company reported their concerns to the Children's Commissioner after being unsatisfied with the response to the issues at Brindley House.

Ms Kane said staff "went over and above the call of duty and some of the staff even put themselves at huge risk while trying to protect the children".

A Department of Health spokesman said that the issues at Brindley House were brought to the department's attention by the NI Children's Commissioner in March 2005.

The spokesman said an inspection of child protection services was initiated by the department in early 2006.

Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People Koulla Yiasouma said the Children's Commissioner became aware of potential breaches in child protection procedures at Brindley House in 2005.

She said the issues were raised with the relevant authorities and that the Commissioner was "assured by the Department of Health, social services and public safety that they would take the appropriate action".

A PSNI spokeswoman said that in early 2007 detectives launched an investigation into the allegations of organised child abuse at the former Brindley House children's home between 2000 and 2005.

She said that in 2008 a number of properties were searched and 11 people were arrested in counties Fermanagh, Tyrone and Armagh and interviewed for child abuse offences, as part of a long and protracted investigation.

A "comprehensive file" was prepared and submitted to the Public Prosecution Service who concluded there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.

The PSNI spokeswoman said if anyone had a complaint about actions of police during the investigation they could contact the Police Ombudsman's office.

They encouraged anyone who had been the victim of abuse to come forward.

"Please contact the police service on 101 or through our dedicated email address at historicalabuse@psni.pnn.police.uk where you will be put in contact with a specially trained officer," the spokeswoman said.

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