Muckamore Abbey Hospital: Family frustrated with abuse inquiry delay
The family of a Muckamore Abbey patient has expressed frustration with the delay in getting a public inquiry into abuse allegations up-and-running.
Glynn Brown, whose son Aaron was a patient at the hospital when details of the abuse scandal first began to emerge in 2017, was speaking to the News Letter after a 34-year-old woman in the Antrim area became the 21st person arrested as part of major police investigation.
The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) confirmed last month that it will take court proceedings against seven staff members over the alleged ill-treatment of patients at the specialist Co Antrim hospital for adults with serious mental health and learning difficulties.
Another eight suspects were also reported on a second investigation file received in December 2020 which remains under consideration by the PPS.
After a years-long campaign for a full public inquiry into the handling of the abuse allegations, Health Minister Robin Swann announced in September last year that is ordering such an inquiry.
Mr Brown, who leads the campaign group Action For Muckamore and has been a driving force behind families’ calls for an inquiry, welcomed the latest arrest but expressed frustration with the length of time it is taking to get the inquiry started.
“It’s nearly four years since this all started, so you’ve got to take it in the full context,” he said.
“We’ve been pushing for a public inquiry for some time. Now, I’m not looking for something to be rushed and I understand that things do take time but I am not convinced there’s ever been any urgency.”
He continued: “I’m not convinced there was ever a plan for a Muckamore inquiry. It was dragged out of them after years.
“It’s been nine months since Robin Swann said he is calling an inquiry.
“Look, if you call an inquiry you know that there are certain things that automatically follow from that – what are the terms of reference, who is going to chair it, where is the panel, where is the building, where is the IT support, where is the money for it?
“That all follows from that one decision. Nine months have passed and they haven’t appointed a chair.
“There’s no urgency whatsoever. Right now all that has happened is that they’ve called a public inquiry.”
Mr Brown said a judge “who doesn’t mind upsetting applecarts” should be appointed to lead the inquiry, and warned against the appointment of an “establishment figure”.