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Thursday, 27 October 2011

Minister Edwin Poots denies cover-up over Lissue & Forster Green abuse report - well we know what that means

Poots denies cover-up over abuse report

Filed under: an príomhbhóthar -

original source - News Letter

Thursday 27 October 2011

HEALTH minister Edwin Poots has denied that his department covered up a report into allegations of widespread child abuse at two former hospitals for mentally ill children.

The report, which was leaked yesterday, was carried out in 2008 on the orders of the Eastern Health Board after allegations of sexual, mental, and physical abuse against children while they were being cared for at Lissue Children’s Hospital in Lisburn and Forster Green Hospital in south Belfast.

However, it has never been published and only came to light yesterday after being leaked to the Irish News.

At a meeting of the Stormont health committee yesterday, health department officials insisted that there was “no deliberate withholding” of information about the allegations of abuse which relate to cases during the 1980s and 1990s.

But the DUP’s Jim Wells, who is to take over as health minister in two years, said that MLAs should have been told about the report without having to wait for the media to publish it.

However, Mr Poots, who was not minister at the time, told his party colleague: “I agree to a large extent with what you say but there’s not a smidgen of a cover-up.”

Mr Poots told MLAs that he was “appalled” by the revelations but added that he wanted to “reassure the committee that times have very much changed and child protection and adult safeguarding have come a very long way in the last 20 years”.

In a statement yesterday Mr Wells said that he was horrified by what had emerged.

He said: “The revelations which have been uncovered today relating to the former Lissue Children’s Hospital and Forster Green during the 1980s and early 90s are deeply disturbing.

“The extent of the sickening abuse which appears to have been detailed in a report into the two hospitals will appal people across Northern Ireland.

“It is very important that we find out the full details as to how this report could have been compiled in 2009 but has only come to light now.

“It would appear that only certain civil servants were aware of its existence and obviously questions must be answered not only about why this report was not made public, but as to what if any action has been taken in light of its contents.”

Health committee chairman Michelle Gildernew said: “This report makes disturbing reading and questions need to be asked of the minister and the health department.

“Vulnerable children within our society were abused and possibly scarred for life by those who had been entrusted with their welfare.”

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