David Ford said: “Paul Goggins must do more to address the current crisis at Muckamore Abbey.
“The Minister must show that he is taking this matter seriously and he must request a full and searching public inquiry into the matter immediately.
“His comments last night suggest that he is pushing the matter off on one of his officials for them to deal with. There was no real urgency in his words or actions. This matter requires immediate action because people with learning difficulties voices’ have not been heard at all.”
Meanwhile, Castlereagh Alliance Councillor, Sara Duncan has outlined her concerns and provided an account of why it is necessary for the government to sort out the Muckamore crisis as soon as possible:
Cllr Sara Duncan said: “A few years ago I was invited to the opening of a group of bungalows purpose built in Castlereagh West for disabled people and people with learning difficulties to live among the community.
“I was amazed by the story I heard about one young female occupant. She had been in Muckamore Abbey since the age of 3, and had come to the notice of a woman who was visiting her ward. This woman took an interest in her, brought her to visit her home and invited her to a wedding. The girl was able to explain to this woman that she would like to leave Muckamore and live in her own home.
“Dreams do come true – she was moved to a hostel in Belfast, given training in living skills, and then offered one of the bungalows. She was able to chose the décor of her new home, chose her meals, her clothes. If she wants to go shopping or to the cinema, she can, thanks to a full-time carer.
“You can imagine the dignity, and control over her own life this has given her.
“I was so impressed by this girl’s determination to live her life as she chooses that I nominated her for a William Keown award for courage, which she received.
“It may cost slightly more to enable the residents of Muckamore to move to similar accommodation, but the benefit to people who are unable to speak for themselves is incalculable.”