Northern Ireland news

Relatives of pensioners who suffered neglect at Belfast care home 'will not rest' until criminal prosecutions are brought

Julieann McNally (second from left) say they 'will not rest' until criminal prosecutions are brought. Picture by Hugh Russell

RELATIVES of pensioners who suffered appalling neglect at a Belfast care home say they "will not rest" until criminal prosecutions are brought against those responsible.

Families staged a protest outside a health regulator's headquarters in the city yesterday to "demand change" following a damning report into the care of their loved ones at Dunmurry Manor care home in 2016.

Carrying placards stating 'protect our loved ones' and chanting 'What do we want? We want the truth', the relatives gathered outside the offices of the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA).

They are challenging the regulator's claim that it "did not fail" in its duty over Dunmurry Manor home in the west of the city.

It comes after a scathing investigation found there had been a "horrific catalogue of inhuman and degrading treatment" at the Dunmurry home, which opened four years ago and was repeatedly inspected by the watchdog.

The probe, carried out by the Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland, found residents went for "weeks on end without meals" and were denied medication.

Sexual assaults were carried out on some frail female patients by other residents at the care home, while others suffered extreme weight loss.

The RQIA was heavily criticised for not being aware of the full scale of the problem, despite inspections. However, the watchdog rejected some of the findings and denied failing in its duty of care.

Among those who protested yesterday were the family of pensioner Annie McCourt, who experienced poor care, going without food and not being washed properly at the Dunmurry home.

Ms McCourt's grand-daughter Julieann McNally said "the message we are trying to get across today is that we want them (RQIA) to take responsibility".

"We want them to hold their hands up now and say we accept our part in the failures of this report," she said.

"We want this to now open lines of communication for the families for change and for other people moving forward. We are clear, enough is enough today, it has got to stop."

Ms McNally also said they had consulted with legal representatives in a bid to "bring criminal prosecutions".

"Mark my words and have no doubt about it, we will be looking for criminal prosecutions in this," she said.

"Where it's there and the evidence is there, we will not rest until it happens."

Ms McNally said she hoped what her grandmother had endured would be a "catalyst for change".

"She would go through it all again if she thought it's going to change things for other people that go behind her," she said.

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