The revelations of historic abuse in Fermanagh following investigations by the Impartial Reporter’s deputy editor, Rodney Edwards, continue and the Orange Order has now been brought to the fore.
The number of victims is growing as is the number of identified abusers. The PSNI have been investigating the complaints and specialist officers from the Public Protection Unit have been assigned to conduct these enquiries.
In the latest revelation two women have said they were abused by members of the Orange Order while they were children. They say the Orange Order was made aware of the allegations but have so far done nothing about it.
The alleged abuse took place over many years and goes back a long time. The allegations are of serious sexual assault including rape and relate to activities connected to the Orange Order, such as band and parade practice at Orange Halls and to an incident after one of the victims was singing in church.
Mr Edwards says that the victims “…believe there was a cover up within the Orange Order…” One of the victims says she was sent to a religious counsellor who wanted her to pray for forgiveness and so she did not return to the counselling provided. She feels the lack of response and the fact no-one has been punished for this has left her feeling that it is herself being punished for these events.
One of the victims says she made statements to the police in the late 1990s and even met with a public prosecutor but that they felt there was insufficient evidence and so no prosecution occurred. The new investigation by the PSNI will inevitably have to consider the old statements and investigations
The PSNI have confirmed they will re-examine the old case and ensure that all lines of enquiry were followed and will maintain contact with the victims as the investigation progresses.
The Orange Order has confirmed it is aware of “very serious” allegations and said it will co-operate fully with the PSNI investigation but will not comment further while this investigation is on-going.
Fintan Canavan, Partner, BLM