North’s prosecutors receive files in historical abuse case
Stock photo: AFP/Getty Images
December 20 2020 02:30 AM
Northern Ireland’s Public Prosecution Service (PPS) is expected to decide whether there is enough evidence to prosecute several people arrested by detectives investigating allegations of historical sex abuse in Co Fermanagh.
In August, 10 suspects, aged between 63 and 78, were arrested in Fermanagh, Antrim and Derry amid a major sex abuse probe.
The police investigation has been ongoing since last year, when several people went public with claims of historical abuse, leading to rallies on the streets, public meetings and protests.
Enniskillen-based newspaper the Impartial Reporter provided a platform for dozens of alleged victims to tell their stories.
Allegations were made against teachers, bus drivers, police officers, businessmen, members of the Orange Order and criminal gangs, with some notable themes: the widespread abuse of power by those tasked with keeping children safe, the apparent inaction of police or the prosecution system, and the lack of justice for those alleged victims.
Now, 18 months on, some alleged victims are frustrated at the lack of pace shown by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in concluding its investigation.
“We feel like we are being thrown from pillar to post and worry that the police are taking too long on our case,” said one alleged victim.
“We have waited so long for justice, we need closure and no more delays.”
Former Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan said there is “a duty on the police to keep victims informed”.
“If they are not being kept informed the police may well want to address that issue. I would expect them [victims] to be given information about how they [the police] are proceeding, whether they anticipate a huge number of arrests,” she said.
Last week the PSNI confirmed that files on those arrested are “being submitted to the PPS for consideration”.
“We do not comment on individual cases. However, our inquiries into the allegations of historical sexual abuse in Co Fermanagh are ongoing and Public Protection detectives are actively working on all of the reports made to us and are focused on gathering all relevant evidence,” said a spokeswoman.
Meanwhile, a writ will soon be filed at Belfast’s High Court against the Orange Order, following allegations that some of its members sexually abused a child during the Troubles.
The civil action, which was delayed in commencing several weeks ago, is being initiated on behalf of the family of an alleged victim who died earlier this year.