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Muckamore families 'cautiously optimistic' about inquiry following first meeting with chair

Glynn Brown heads up the pressure group Action for Muckamore. Picture by Mal McCann
Seanín Graham

A FATHER who raised the alarm about suspected abuse at Muckamore Abbey Hospital has said he is "cautiously optimistic" about a Public Inquiry following a first meeting with its chair.

Glynn Brown joined with other relatives of patients in their first face-to-face meeting with Tom Kark QC in Belfast yesterday to discuss the probe's scope and terms of reference.

Mr Brown heads up the pressure group Action for Muckmore and their solicitor Claire McKeegan had requested the meeting in August, two months after Mr Kark's appointment.

The inquiry officially got underway on Monday and a series of 'engagement' events are taking place across Northern Ireland, while people affected by allegations are being urged to come forward.

The landmark inquiry will investigate alleged mistreatment of vulnerable adult patients by healthcare staff at the Co Antrim regional facility, including physical abuse and mental cruelty.

It will probe "events" going back 20 years at the hospital, which is currently as the centre of an unprecedented police investigation.

"It was a positive meeting where we also met with the counsel to the inquiry and the secretary. We impressed upon Mr Kark that we wanted this to be a top-down inquiry with teeth," Mr Brown said.

"They insisted it will be independent and impartial - they are happy with their terms of reference which they say will be wide. They will look in every corner and be able to compel witnesses...so at this point we are cautiously optimistic."

Mr Brown first alerted police four years ago about CCTV footage at the hospital after his non-verbal son Aaron was allegedly assaulted in a ward. He echoed Mr Kark's appeal for former patients, family members and staff to come forward with any relevant information.

"I think it's important to stress that anyone who had an issue even 20 or 30 years ago should come forward," he said.

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