SF Calls For Combined Justice And Health Summit Over Donagh Abuse Case

Continuing controversy over the return of two pervert brothers into the community they are said to have abused has led to further developments today.

Sinn Féin's Deputy Chair of the Health Committee Michelle O'Neill has proposed that a joint sitting of the Health and Justice Committees takes place to discuss outstanding questions around the return of the McDermott Brothers to the village of Donagh.

The move came as it emerged that the office of the most senior judge in NI wrote to the Stormont Justice Minister to clarify the judgement made in the Donagh child sex abuse scandal.

There has been controversy over how two brothers who abused children for 30 years were allowed to return home.

The BBC has learned that the Lord Chief Justice said the trial judge ruled that James and Owen Roe McDermott should live at home, after a recommendation by health professionals.

It was a highly unusual move for the senior legal figure to clarify a judge's ruling.

The letter revealed that the judge who heard the case asked professionals from the Western Health Trust for their advice on where best to place the brothers before he passed judgement.

The letter explains that the judge took evidence specifically on the point that the men would stay at their house in the County Fermanagh village of Donagh.

Now, following the continued unease on the issue, Ms O'Neill - as Deputy Chair of the Health Committee - said: "I proposed the joint sitting after it was revealed that the Lord Chief Justice had written to the Justice Minister David Ford.

"A number of serious questions around the judgement in this case remain unanswered, even after several weeks of two scrutiny committees, Health and Justice, having sought answers on behalf of the victims and survivors," she said.

"The Chairs and Deputy Chairs of both committees will be coming together to discuss this matter.

"We must ensure that the victims and survivors of abuse in Donagh are central to all of this and that we learn the lessons in order to prevent a repeat of this type of incident in the future."


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