Kincora Boys' Home: Inquiry is a betrayal of the abused

What is distinctive about the allegations surrounding Kincora Boys’ Home is not that child abuse took place. Sadly, that was all too commonplace in many children’s homes.

What is uniquely shocking about Kincora are the allegations that the security services actively blocked police investigations in the 1970s in order to continue an intelligence-gathering operation based on the paedophile ring at the home.

In all of this, it is claimed, the boys were little more than bait in MI5’s trap.

No court case, or subsequent inquiries, have been able to shed more light on the allegations — made by former Army intelligence officers, among others — of MI5 involvement.

But perhaps we should not be surprised. The Hughes Inquiry and the Terry Inquiry in the 1980s had their terms of reference limited. And, according to former military men, the inquiries were deliberately misled by the Ministry of Defence and MI5 to ensure that the conspiracy remained unexposed.

So, what chance of the truth emerging now?

Since the Home Secretary announced an inquiry into child abuse in July, Amnesty has led a chorus of demands, echoed by victims and politicians, for Kincora to be included.

With a big focus in Westminster on child abuse, this offered one last chance to get at the truth.

Last week, the Government said “No”. Instead, they offered to co-operate with the institutional abuse inquiry currently sitting in Banbridge.

This inquiry, headed by Sir Anthony Hart, was set up to report on child abuse within children’s homes here and probe failings in their operations and oversight.

It was never designed to dig into what may be one of the dirtiest chapters of the so-called “Dirty War”.

By asking it to do a job for which it is ill-equipped, not only may the secrets of Kincora remain hidden, but the credibility of the whole inquiry risks being tarnished.

That would be a betrayal not just of the victims at Kincora, but of abuse survivors from all our children’s homes.

This comment is also published in the Belfast Telegraph today.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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