Belfast Telegraph

Outrage and demands for action over level of child sex abuse in Fermanagh

By Staff Reporter

More than 100 sex offences against children have been reported to police in Fermanagh over the past three years, shock figures have revealed.

The revelations have sparked alarm and led to demands for a review of legislation to ensure better protection for children.

According to police statistics, there were 103 sex offences against children in the Fermanagh area from April 1, 2013 to the end of March this year.

In 2010 Co Fermanagh was rocked by a major sex abuse scandal after it emerged that four brothers had abused children in the area for more than 30 years.

John Michael McDermott was jailed for nine years. Two of his brothers - mentally unfit to stand trial - were given lifetime sexual offences prevention orders. A fourth brother took his own life during his trial.

The latest statistics were obtained by The Impartial Reporter newspaper via a Freedom of Information request.

Local Ulster Unionist MP Tom Elliott said 103 sex offences against children in the area was "bewildering, almost unbelievable and very worrying".

"I would urge the strongest possible punishment for such offenders and I would also encourage the wider public to be aware of the potential of such abuse," he said.

DUP MLA Lord Morrow said he was "disgusted" at the "appalling figures" and demanded a review of current legislation.

"Society as a whole will be very concerned at the number of sex offences in Co Fermanagh and I, along with members of our community, will be looking to the PSNI to take a very robust approach in bringing the perpetrators of this type of heinous crime before the courts," he said.

"There must be a zero tolerance approach towards this type of heinous crime."

SDLP MLA Richie McPhillips said: "Sexual predators have no place in our society and should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

"We have seen a great surge in online sex abuse crimes against children.

"Social media and internet chat rooms have been used to target and groom unsuspecting children.

"A clear signal must be sent out from our judiciary that these grievous crimes have no place in our society."

Sinn Fein MLA Sean Lynch said he hoped known sex offenders were being properly monitored by police.

He said: "During the last mandate I sat on the justice committee. In that time I was very much involved in shaping new provisions within the Justice Bill, one of which was around child protection and disclosure arrangements. These new provisions strengthen the law around sexual offence crimes against children."

Helena Bracken of Nexus Northern Ireland, which helps survivors of sexual abuse, believes there may be many more abuse cases in the area.

"From our experience and research we know that the amount of sex offences that have been reported to the police is not a reflection of the extent of the problem. Due to the nature of this crime and the stigma surrounding it, many men and women prefer not to pursue prosecution," she said.

Ms Bracken added that society should "talk openly about sexual violence" to "give our children the skills and knowledge to help break the cycle of sexual violence".

The police statistics show that from April 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014 there were 23 crimes of sexual offences recorded in Fermanagh where the victim was aged under 16 at the time of the offence.

From April 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015 there were 40 recorded. Another 40 sexual offences were recorded between April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph