Donagh victims: 'We are glad we told police about abuse'

Neither brother knew the other was being abused

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The two brothers who first exposed the sexual abuse of children in Donagh, County Fermanagh, have told the BBC that going to the police was the best thing that they ever did.

Their decision led to the end of more than 30 years of abuse, thought to have involved dozens of children, by five McDermott brothers.

Johnny McDermott is the only one to have been jailed for the abuse. Two other brothers, James and Owen Roe McDermott, were deemed unfit to stand trial.

Peter Paul McDermott hanged himself at the start of his trial. A fifth brother, Willie McDermott, died in 1994 before any charges were brought.

The BBC revealed that three of the victims were also abused by a parish priest, Canon Peter Duffy.

Even though they grew up in the same house, the brothers said neither knew the other was being abused.

The BBC has agreed to protect the brothers' identities.

"I never had an idea, never in my wildest imagination did I ever think that my was brother was getting abused by any of them," he said.

Johnny McDermott Johnny McDermott is the only one to have been jailed for the abuse

"I just could not understand when I'd heard that he had tried to take his life and the reason why he had done it.

"I was just shocked. I could have dropped on the spot. And then, when I sat and thought about it, it just says how sneaky and manipulative these people were that it could go on and we knew nothing about it."

It was following the suicide attempt in 2008 that the brothers decided to go to the police.

"I was found in time... we had a chat and I couldn't believe it," one of them said.

"He'd told me that he'd been abused too so we sat and we chatted for couple of hours, a good couple of hours, and we decided the best course of action would be... just go to the police and get it sorted out.

"We'd make our statement to the police and I have to say it was the best thing we've ever done."

The other brother said it was time for the abuse to end.

"The McDermotts are running around Donagh abusing children left, right and centre and we're just sitting here suffering because of it.

"We had a chat and I got him convinced that the best thing was to go to the police."

Other survivors of abuse have paid tribute to the bravery of the two men which, they said, gave them the courage to also report their abuse.

Nine victims have reported their abuse by the McDermott brothers to the police and had their cases heard in court.

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"I think the people of Donagh didn't realise how serious the abuse was until it all came out after the court case”

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But some of the survivors feel that the justice system let them down after James and Owen Roe McDermott were allowed to return to their home for several weeks, before they admitted themselves voluntarily to hospital in Londonderry following a public outcry.

"I think the people of Donagh didn't realise how serious the abuse was until it all came out after the court case," said one of the men.

"Then they were absolutely disgusted that this could go on in this wee village. Nobody knew nothing about it."

The police now have a court order allowing them to approve where James and Owen Roe McDermott can live, which means they are unlikely to ever return to the small rural community where victims and their families continue to live.

"I don't mind going back to the village now because if they feel you were fearing going back to the village, they've won," said one of the men.

His brother added: "It's gone, they are not hanging around the bridge at the corner or they're not standing up at the other corner, they aren't there anymore. It seems like a different place now that they are just gone."

You can hear the brothers' full story on BBC Newsline at 18:30 BST on Friday.

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