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In previous blogs we have highlighted the work of the Fermanagh newspaper, The Impartial Reporter, and its coverage of abuse reports in that area and the creation of a new police task force to re-examine older complaints and investigate recent reports of historic abuse.
Last week, the first prosecution came before the courts arising from a series of historical child sexual abuse claims in Co Fermanagh.
An 86 year old former businessman appeared before Enniskillen Magistrates Court to be returned for trial in the Crown Court in relation to five alleged charges of indecent assault. He is alleged to have indecently assaulted two males in the 1980s. Written statements of evidence and documents have been served by the prosecution for the committal hearing.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has arrested a significant number of people, thought to be in excess of 12 in connection with what are believed to be unconnected allegations of historical sexual abuse in Co Fermanagh. Those arrested came from a number of counties including Fermanagh, Antrim and Derry.
This is just another step in an ongoing PSNI investigation, which has taken place over the last 18 months after the reports by the Impartial Reporter.
It is understood that the PSNI is due to send on other files to the Public Prosecution Service in Northern Ireland to be considered in terms
A masked man has spoken to the Belfast Telegraph newspaper and admitted that nine former residents of St Patricks Home in West Belfast had been responsible for an arson attack on the premises. The arson continues to be investigated by the PSNI but the man indicated that he and his accomplices were happy that there was no evidence remaining from the blaze and did not fear prosecution.
The man said he was part of a survivors group representing approximately 140 former residents of the home run by the De La Salle Order. St Patrick’s closed as a residential facility and the property was sold to a development company.
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.
As we develop a greater understanding of the impact of abuse on victims and the wide range of reactions to the abuse, and as police and prosecutors receive greater training, it is likely that old cases, previously dismissed or overlooked, will be re-examined. Cross referencing across police areas may well lead to reactivation of older allegations being given the credibility not appreciated before.
This has occurred in County Fermanagh where the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has created a team of officers to look into allegations of abuse going back over decades. A number of the allegations name a former bus driver as the abuser; some of the allegations are against un-named individuals who were described as well known in the area including “prominent businessmen”.