Northern Ireland news

Former health minster Edwin Poots's brother cared for in Muckamore

Former health minster Edwin Poots had a brother who was cared for in Muckamore Abbey hospital
Seanin Graham

FORMER health minister Edwin Poots revealed he had a brother in Muckamore Abbey hospital during an emotional address to his Stormont colleagues as he was grilled on an abuse scandal.

Fighting back tears, the DUP Lagan Valley MLA said he had visited Muckamore 'over 1,000 times' and a probe into the former children's psychiatric hospital Lissue House had caused him 'great vexation'.

Mr Poots was speaking during a lengthy debate in the assembly seven years ago after claims of sexual, physical and emotional abuse at two psychiatric facilities - including Lissue - were first reported in The Irish News.

His brother Stephen suffered from severe learning disabilities and went into care at the age of five. He passed away eight years ago at the age of 53.

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Describing abuse of vulnerable children as "pernicious", Mr Poots told the assembly: "I have a brother who was in Muckamore Abbey Hospital. This issue has caused me great vexation, because we have our own concerns about what went on in that facility. I am sure that I have visited that facility over 1,000 times in my lifetime, and I know many of the young people who were there, and I know about their mental capacity issues.

"Given those mental capacity issues, many of them would not be capable of remembering what went on... we must ensure maximum protection for the children and the vulnerable adults who are in our care. Those people deserve that, and, as a society, it is the least that we can do."

In an interview with the Belfast Telegraph earlier this year, Mr Poots also described how the admission of brother into care "broke his mother's heart".

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