Friday, 4 July 2008

'Failings' in Omagh fire deaths

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Michael McGimpsey was speaking after an independent report said the authorities involved with the family could not have known what was about to happen. Arthur McElhill, Lorraine McGovern and their five children died in the blaze. Mr McElhill, a registered sex offender, was suspected of starting the fire in November 2007. The report, by Henry Toner QC, did cite deficiencies in how agencies communicated his record and made 63 recommendations.The report criticised how information was communicated within disciplines of the Western Health and Social Care Trust and other agencies and the assessment of potential risks posed by Arthur McElhill to teenage girls by reason of his sex offences. Police told social workers Mr McElhill had convictions for sexually assaulting teenage girls, even though the information was in their own files - had anyone looked it up. Social services then removed a teenage child from the house - she was a friend of the eldest daughter Caroline - and
had been staying there. Subsequent meetings of social workers to discuss this teenage child were not told of Arthur McElhill's offences, and no-one assessed the risk to the other children still living in the house. In a statement Ms McGovern's family welcomed the report and said they hoped the recommendations are "fully implemented"

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