Northern Ireland news

Belfast Cathedral Quarter premises will be base for Muckamore Public Inquiry

Public hearings for the Muckamore Abbey Hospital inquiry will begin next spring
Seanín Graham

PREMISES have been secured in Belfast for the public inquiry into the Muckamore Abbey Hospital abuse scandal.

Hearings are expected to begin next spring and inquiry chair, Tom Kark QC, yesterday confirmed that two floors of a building the Cathedral Quarter will be the base.

The Corn Exchange premises were chosen as they house an "excellent hearing room", office space for the inquiry team, good disabled access and parking nearby.

Mr Kark said work is ongoing to set up the technological facilities to allow for the ability to stream hearings and receive video evidence.

The landmark inquiry was ordered by Health Minister Robin Swann last September and will investigate alleged mistreatment of vulnerable adult patients by healthcare staff at the Co Antrim regional facility, including physical abuse and mental cruelty.

It officially got underway last month with series of 'engagement' events.

The inquiry team will probe "events" going back 20 years.

The Muckamore case is the biggest criminal investigation of its kind in the north with 1,500 suspected crimes discovered in one ward alone between April and September 2017.

More than 300,000 hours of CCTV footage from hospital wards are central to the police probe - with staff suspects not realising the cameras were recording.

Seven people are facing prosecutions while there have been 24 arrests. More than 70 hospital employees - mainly nursing staff - have been suspended by the Belfast trust, which is responsible for Muckamore.

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