Brindley House in Killadeas opened in 2000 amid a storm of protest.

"Get out or be put out scum" was scrawled across the ground outside the home as residents protested against the opening of the facility. The same words were burned onto the lawn with weed killer.

That was almost 20 years ago when a protest was organised by Killadeas Residents' Association and lasted more than a year.

Protestors were later accused during a meeting of the then Fermanagh District Council of shouting ‘Fenian scum’ at children at the home.

Then Sinn Fein Councillor Brian McCaffrey claimed an RUC officer had taken part in the protest.

“I think it is a sad reflection that a policeman is supposed to be impartial and display the ability to serve the community,” he said.

Then Councillor Geraldine Cassidy said Killadeas residents who objected to the home believe they were misled by the initial planning application for the home.

“If these people really believe they were misled about the planning application, then their grievance is with the planners not the owners of the home nor the children, but not once did we hear of these people protect outside the planners office.

“No instead a crowd of people gathers to shout abuse at children who have had the most horrendous crimes committed against them,” she told the Council.

The councillor said children at Brindley had suffered sexual, physical, emotional and mental abuse.

During the meeting of the Council, Councillor Cassidy proposed a Notice of Motion calling on the people involved in the protests to put an end to their actions. A total of 11 councillors voted for the Motion and none against.

The motion read: “That this Council notes with concern protests taking place twice weekly at Brindley Children’s Home in Killadeas, Irvinestown.

“This Council calls on the people involved in the protests to put an end to their actions as they are not only further traumatising children who are not only at Brindley for specialist care but to receive love, affection and the respect they are entitled to.

“This Council will do everything in its power to intervene so that a more appropriate form of action and dialogue can take place.”

One of the most outspoken protestors was the then secretary of the association Diana Armstrong who is now an Ulster Unionist Councillor and Vice Chairwoman of Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

In 2000 she told The Irish Times newspaper that some residents found out that the Brindley House children would include some with emotional disorders, including inappropriate sexual behaviour and destructiveness, as well as children who had committed petty criminal offences.

"We have studied other children's homes and we know the problems of joyriding and other young people being attracted to the home," she said.

Ms Armstrong said the planners, the Western Health and Social Services Board (WHSSB) and the local health trust, the Sperrin Lakeland Trust, had not informed the public about the exact nature of the facility until it was too late to complain.

"Residents are protesting against the actions of the company [Care NI Ltd] and the collusion of the WHSSB and the Sperrin Lakeland Trust in pushing the development through without the knowledge of local people."

DUP Councillor Bert Johnston said at the time that he defended the residents' right to peaceful protest.

"They just stand there a couple of days a week just for an hour or so. It's very low-key." He said residents were worried that the "stigma" of the home being located in the area could affect tourism and property values.

However a former employee has described the protests as “horrendous”.

“There were children living in the home and there would have been a group of people standing at the bottom of the drive with placards up. Some of the placards said, ‘get out or be put out’ and it seemed to have been led by Diana Armstrong.”

The protests lasted for more than a year but “seemed to go on forever”, said the former employee.

“It was terrible, Even some of the staff who worked in the area were even stopped from going to their own Church because they worked in Brindley House. The residents didn’t want the children in their community. Some of these protestors were police officers, too.”

The former employee said Ms Armstrong “now has questions to answer”.

“She has questions to answer over her behaviour. The protestors had five and six-year-old children standing at the end of the drive with placards. There are photographs of it.

“I asked her to reconsider what she was doing but she was having none of it.”

People living near the home expressed their “relief” when it closed.

On Wednesday Mrs. Armstrong, the current vice chairwoman of the Council, could not comment.

“I am on Civic duties for most of today so will be unable to give you a response to your e-mail at this point in time,” she said.

Asked to comment about his role in the protests at the time, Mr. Johnston, a former Erne North councillor, said: “I have nothing to say about that whatsoever, absolutely nothing”.

However, the former DUP politician said he condemned any allegations of child sex abuse “without hesitation”.