Goggins ‘Must Make Statement’ On Hospital Sex Abuse Claims

Health minister Paul Goggins was under pressure last night to respond publicly to Belfast Telegraph revelations about a major police probe into allegations of widespread sexual abuse among patients at Muckamore Abbey Hospital.

The shocking revelations have also sparked questions over how, if the allegations are true, the abuse was able to continue for 22 years.

Yesterday the Belfast Telegraph revealed that police, the North and West Belfast Trust and Eastern Health and Social Service Board are investigating alleged sexual abuse at the hospital of, and by former patients between 1960 and 1982.

It is understood that the probe includes at least 40 former patients, including both adults and children.

The investigation began when health chiefs received a complaint from a former patient who claimed he had suffered sexual abuse by an older male patient at the hospital when he was a teenager in the 1970s.

Reviews were then carried out by the Eastern Board and the North and West Belfast Trust to find out if there were reports of similar activity involving other patients at the Co Antrim hospital, which provides a service for patients with learning disabilities.

The PSNI was then informed and has confirmed that its CARE (Child Abuse and Rape Enquiry) unit is investigating “allegations of inappropriate behaviour”.

DUP MP Iris Robinson demanded that Minister Goggins responds publicly to the allegations.

She said: “A number of families of former patients at Muckamore Abbey have expressed concerns since the allegations of sexual abuse have become public.

“It is essential that members of the public are reassured and have their fears addressed. Therefore I am calling on the minister, Paul Goggins, to make a statement in response to the allegations. I also intend to pursue this matter at Westminster.

“It should not be forgotten that the care of vulnerable individuals – both adults and children – has clearly improved massively in recent years.”

Parents of patients at Muckamore were understood to have met health officials yesterday afternoon to discuss the allegations.

It is believed that an assessment is now being carried out on the capacity of individuals to be interviewed by police.