Northern Ireland

Muckamore Inquiry: Delays expected as chair to undergo surgery for heart condition

Tom Kark QC, chair of the Muckamore Inquiry, said it had been an "important and productive year for the Inquiry". Picture by PressEye/PA Wire
Tom Kark QC, chair of the Muckamore Inquiry. PICTURE: PRESSEYE/PA WIRE

Delays are expected to the ongoing Muckamore Inquiry after the chair overseeing the probe said he is to undergo surgery for a heart condition.

Evidence sessions are set to be paused until May after Tom Kark KC told of his medical condition on Monday.

In a statement he said he had been diagnosed with a heart condition and would be undergoing surgery next week.

He said he would then require six weeks to recover.

Muckamore Abbey Hospital
Muckamore Abbey Hospital

Mr Kark has written to the Health Minister Robin Swann to explain the delays with evidence sessions set to be paused from Wednesday until May 7.

The chair added that statements will continue to be taken by the inquiry team and apologised for the delays, which he described as a “very personal matter”.

The inquiry is examining allegations of alleged abuse of patients at the Co Antrim hospital, which provided facilities for adults with special needs.

The inquiry was launched in 2021 and opened for public hearings in June 2022.

In 2017 the PSNI launched a separate investigation after allegations of ill treatment began to emerge.

The police investigation is the biggest criminal safeguarding probe of its kind in Northern Ireland.