Belfast Telegraph

Police ‘won’t be pushed by media’ into making premature Fermanagh abuse arrests

A senior officer told MPs it would take time to interview people who have made claims of historical abuse in Co Fermanagh.

Barbara Gray (Barbara Gray/PA)
Barbara Gray (Barbara Gray/PA)

By David Young, PA

Police investigating claims of historical abuse in Co Fermanagh will not be pushed by the media into making premature arrests, a senior officer has said.

Assistant Chief Constable Barbara Gray defended the police’s handling of the allegations after being asked at a Westminster committee why no one had been detained and questioned.

Co Fermanagh newspaper the Impartial Reporter has provided a platform for dozens of alleged victims to tell their stories over the last eight months.

The paper said it has received claims relating to more than 60 alleged abusers.

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A rally for victims in Fermanagh (Aoife Moore/PA)

Police have been attempting to interview those who have come forward to the paper.

DUP MP Ian Paisley asked Ms Gray for an update on the investigation as she appeared alongside Chief Constable Simon Byrne at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.

“The investigation is being led by the Public Protection Branch – the investigative process is absolutely moving forward,” she said.

“We are seeking to ensure this a victim-centred investigation, and witnesses have been interviewed by police, but those interviews have had to take place with, as you would expect, the most suitably trained officers, and specially trained officers, to deal with vulnerable victims.

“So some of those have been quite lengthy and they have had to be, to provide the absolutely essential support for the victims.

“But I am content that we, as a police service and within the department, are moving forward with those investigations and we have had to do those at the investigative pace that is thorough, victims-centred and not, I suppose, necessarily to be pushed by the media around this, when we have to ensure we have best evidence before we move to the point of executive action, which should it be an arrest and questioning phase.”

PA

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