Opinion piece by Naomi Long: Kincora victims need truth in inquiry into historical child abuse

Earlier this month, the Lord Mayor of London, Fiona Woolf, was named new head of the Home Office inquiry into historical child abuse.

It again brought to the fore the issue of whether Kincora Boys’ Home will be included in that inquiry.

Having met with victims of institutional abuse, what sets Kincora apart are the allegations that the security services covered up the crimes at the time, either to protect an agent, or to blackmail political and other senior figures.

With the head of the Assembly’s historical institutional abuse inquiry, Sir Anthony Hart, stating that his review does not have sufficient powers to investigate allegations of cover-up surrounding Kincora, it is critical that the handling of abuse at the east Belfast home is included in the Woolf inquiry.

Kincora is an almost unique case. It’s not simply that there were paedophiles operating, or even that authorities were neglectful.

Rather, it is alleged that a conscious decision was made to allow the abuse to continue and to hound and prosecute those who tried to shine a light on what was happening.

But Kincora did not exist in a bubble. Some of those who were convicted of child sex offences in Britain also worked in the care system here. To create a barrier in the inquiry based on geography, which did not exist for those who preyed on vulnerable young people, would be a mistake.

With Kincora, the Home Office-ordered inquiry is the only body which could deal with the Security Services’ files and address the allegations of cover-up.

The children of Kincora were vulnerable, often isolated and stigmatised by wider society. Many are still struggling today with the effects abuse has had on their well-being.

We have a duty to ensure the whole truth of what happened at Kincora Boys’ Home is – finally – properly investigated and the victims receive some justice.

The Woolf inquiry is that opportunity. If it is not taken, there may not be another.

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