Muckamore Abbey scandal: Families tell Robin Swann to set up public inquiry

Health Minister Robin Swann said he has a “decision to make” after hearing calls from families of Muckamore Abbey Hospital patients for a public inquiry into alleged abuse.

Glynn Brown, spokesman for the campaign group Action For Muckamore
Glynn Brown, spokesman for the campaign group Action For Muckamore

The Co Antrim facility for adults with serious learning difficulties and mental health problems has been at the centre of a major police investigation into allegations patients were abused by staff.

Families have been calling for a public inquiry into the handling of the abuse allegations for some time.

Mr Swann, in a statement to the News Letter after his meeting with patients’ families on Wednesday night, said: “I have made clear that patients and families have a right to answers on what went so appallingly wrong at Muckamore. I clearly have a decision to make on establishing the best process to provide these answers.”

Dozens of staff have been suspended by health authorities since the allegations first began to surface. To date, five arrests have been made by PSNI officers as part of their investigation.

Glynn Brown, the father of a patient at Muckamore who has serious learning difficulties, is a spokesman for the campaign group Action For Muckamore.

“When Robin Swann was the Ulster Unionist leader, he along with all the other party leaders, wrote to the permanent secretary to say that he would support a public inquiry,” he said.

“This was around five months ago, when it didn’t look likely an Assembly would be formed. But now, he is the health minister. We are expecting him to live up to his written promises.”

Mr Swann added: “My decision has to be an informed one, so I am carefully considering detailed advice on potential options.

“As I have also stated, any process that is put in place will have to take cognisance of the ongoing major PSNI investigation.”