Donagh sex abuse claims investigation widens

Further suspects are set to be questioned by detectives investigating serial sex abuse allegations in a rural village in Northern Ireland, it emerged today.

The investigation in Donagh, Co Fermanagh, which has already seen four brothers face a litany of abuse charges dating over a 30-year period has now been widened.

The development emerged 24 hours after two of the brothers, both of whom had returned to live in the village after being declared mentally unfit to stand trial, voluntarily checked themselves into a psychiatric unit.

Locals reacted furiously when James and Owen Roe McDermott, 61 and 52 respectively, resumed living in the family home near a children’s play park after the judge’s ruling last month.

Of the other two brothers, John McDermott was jailed for nine years, while Peter Paul McDermott killed himself during the trial.

It is understood police have received information raising concerns that others were involved in the abuse.

A Police Service of Northern Ireland spokesman said he could not comment on the specifics of the case.

But he added: “Any concerns reported to police will be investigated thoroughly.”

Health officials from the Western Trust last night confirmed that James and Owen Roe McDermott were now under their care in Derry.

The two brothers’ return to the family home on the Moorlough Road in the village prompted protests from locals, and calls for action by the Stormont Assembly to close the legal loophole that meant they could not be committed to an institution.

Sinn Féin councillor for East Fermanagh Thomas O’Reilly welcomed the widening of the investigation.

“The suspicion is there are more abusers and more victims,” he said.

“The immediate problem facing the community was to have the two abusers moved out and that has now happened, and now I think there will be more speculation whether more victims and abusers will emerge.

“The community wants to see the suffering that has been perpetuated in this community for almost forty years addressed and investigated.”

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