Muckamore Abbey Hospital: Public inquiry terms of reference announced. Tom Kark QC Chairs the inquiry.

The terms of reference for the public inquiry into allegations of abuse at Muckamore Abbey Hospital have been announced by the health minister.

Allegations of abuse at Muckamore Abbey Hospital, which is run by the Belfast Trust and located on the outskirts of Antrim, first came to light in 2017.  The date of the Inquiry along with the terms of reference were announced yesterday; the inquiry will be set up on the 11th October 2021.

Tom Kark QC as Chair of the Inquiry, gave the following press statement, yesterday:

“I am honoured to be asked to Chair the Muckamore Abbey Hospital Inquiry by Minister Robin Swann and I am pleased that the terms of reference have now been published which I believe are wide enough to allow me and my panel to investigate the issues at Muckamore Abbey Hospital in considerable depth. We can now move forward with purpose.

I will be assisted in this immensely important piece of work by panelists Professor Glynis Murphy and Dr. Peter Carter, both leading experts in their respective professions with considerable understanding of the treatment and care of patients with mental health conditions and learning disabilities.  

Since my appointment in June of this year, significant work has been carried out to appoint the Inquiry team and associated set up activity. I was extremely pleased when Sean Doran QC accepted the appointment as counsel to the inquiry, he is a senior barrister with experience in inquests and inquiries and his legal and advocacy skills will be central to the success of this inquiry.   

There is no doubt that due to the size and scale of this Inquiry that it is expected to take some time. Further activity is required prior to the commencement of the public hearings and I would like to assure people that every effort is being undertaken to move forward swiftly.

It is imperative that we engage with as many people as possible, and I would encourage those affected by the issues at Muckamore Abbey Hospital, to come forward early. Details of how to do so will shortly be posted on the Inquiry website.

The Inquiry is an independent body and the matters that it has been set up to consider are serious and complex. This inquiry is about the wellbeing of vulnerable people who have been entrusted into the care of others, often away from their families. These issues will be thoroughly and impartially investigated by myself and the Inquiry panel.

It is my aim to ensure that the Inquiry is full, open and wholly meets the extensive terms of reference.”

National reporting can be read here and here.

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