Northern Ireland Secretary of State Julian Smith told Westminster MPs yesterday (Wednesday) that “criminal proceedings are in place” in relation to allegations of historical child sex abuse in Fermanagh.

Mr. Smith described the testimonies by dozens of alleged victims in The Impartial Reporter over the past seven months as “extremely depressing” after he was asked to step in and address the matter during a meeting of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.

Democratic Unionist MP Ian Paisley, who challenged Chief Constable Simon Byrne on the issue last week, explained how this newspaper has “identified extensive abuse” across the county. Some of the stories since March include allegations of child sex abuse in schools, on buses, on former Council owned property, in Orange Halls and all allegedly carried out by those who abused their positions.

Speaking at Westminster yesterday Mr. Paisley asked Mr. Smith to help ensure the matter was “not just brushed under the carpet”.

“Would it be possible for you to do a desktop review or ask for a senior civil servant to report on those findings that have been published?

“We heard from the chief constable’s office last week that arrests may be made but given what’s happened at a state nursing home and state hospitals in Northern Ireland in the past years is this something you could look at directly to make sure that this matter will not be just brushed under the carpet?”

In response, Mr. Smith, who has been regularly briefed on the coverage in this newspaper, said: “Well certainly there have been so many of these extremely depressing and horrendous abuse allegations. I think the police are looking and there are criminal proceedings in place, but I am happy to meet anybody that you would like, or to discuss further.

“I think we need to go through every one of these situations and make sure that anybody involved in abuse at these institutions is brought to justice and that we all collectively do that until everybody has paid for their crimes,” he said.

Mr. Smith’s comments have been welcomed by some of the alleged abuse victims.