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Kincora: Memories for abuse victims will never go away

By Liam Clarke

Published 24/04/2015

Former Kincora resident Richard Kerr
Former Kincora resident Richard Kerr

Peter Robinson is right to demand the demolition of Ulster's oldest house of horrors before it is burnt to the ground by disgruntled former inmates.

There is no doubt that most other politicians, most former residents and even the police who investigated are likely to agree.

Kincora, on the Upper Newtownards Road, is synonymous with child abuse and it is so distinctive looking that the building can never be rehabilitated.

Visiting the premises with former residents is something else. I went there with Richard Kerr who was visibly shaken as horrific memories flooded back. Clint Massey recalled how even years later travelling past in an armoured car as a soldier it made the hairs stand on the back of his neck as he approached it.

He still passes it every day. Other former victims have had to be dissuaded from setting fire to it.

On the other hand it is a fine site and something worthwhile could be done with it to reclaim it for the community if it were cleared. It could be a trauma centre or a centre for young people where they will not be assaulted.

We particularly owe it to the former residents because when they were being abused in the 1970s their abusers were regarded as pillars of the establishment, devoted to caring for young people.

Police or locals didn't believe complaints about such people, just like with Jimmy Savile or Cyril Smith in England.

That is why we also owe it to them to put the story straight. That means holding inquiry hearings in London as the First Minister has previously proposed.

We now know that boys from Kincora were abused in England. This involved a network stretching across the Irish Sea and raises intelligence issues. The other cases being looked at by the inquiry into Historical Institutional Abuse in Banbridge are more localised.

Kincora deserves to be examined in the round.

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