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‘Uncovering the dirty secrets of the place I call home’

Written by on 16/05/2019

It is being alleged that hundreds of children may have been abused by a suspected paedophile ring in County Fermanagh.

A local newspaper, The Impartial Reporter, has been contacted by more than a dozen people making allegations of historical abuse.

Here, the paper’s deputy editor, Rodney Edwards, tells a story which began when a man walked into their office in Enniskillen two months ago:

As beams of sunshine shone through the window of her house, Emma (not her real name) closed the curtains as quickly as she had opened them. She could not bear to feel the sun on her face.

It brought back distressing memories of when she was sexually abused by up to 15 men in homes in County Fermanagh less than 20 years previously.

Edging into the house, the sunlight would have lit up the faces of the evil men who took away her innocence.

Now a dark cloud hangs over this place, the most westerly constituency in the United Kingdom.

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Emma had been sold for sex by her childminder from the age of four in the place where she should have been safe.

Nobody has yet been arrested, charged or prosecuted for the horrific attacks inflicted on this little girl and others in what is one of Northern Ireland’s most shocking accounts of historical child sex abuse.

And it is the latest in a large number of sex abuse cases that have emerged in The Impartial Reporter newspaper after one brave man walked into our office on Enniskillen’s East Bridge Street two months ago to claim he had been abused as part of a suspected paedophile ring more than 30 years ago.

He changed the conversation and the dynamic in a rural, border county and prompted victim after victim to come forward to tell their stories.

There was the teenager abused by his friend’s father, the woman abused by her own brother, the schoolboy raped 12 times on a school bus by a man who was murdered and found two years later buried in a bog – a man who along with others got away with abusing possibly hundreds of children in Fermanagh and whose past poses many difficult questions for the police.

A local newspaper in Enniskillen has been covering the story

Image: The Impartial Reporter has been covering the story

What did it know about the litany of sex abuse the former bus driver carried out when he was alive? We know officers were informed of some of it.

The number of victims to have approached us to recount their experiences is now in double figures.

The common denominator in all of this is that almost none of these alleged perpetrators have ended up in jail. Victims feel left down and powerless.

As a result of our continued coverage, the Police Service of Northern Ireland has set up a specialist team to review every single case after a personal intervention by outgoing Chief Constable George Hamilton.

The onus is now on the police and the Public Prosecution Service to bring these wicked men and women to justice.

While it is deeply disturbing to uncover the dirty secrets of a place I call home, it is vital that these brave people are given a voice. We will keep doing that.

Exposing wrongdoing and seeking the truth isn’t just our job, it is our duty, especially when it is in our own back yard.

We must always comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable, for that is what being a journalist is all about.

 Sky News

© Sky News 2019

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