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Kincora: Only a full inquiry will do


Kincora Boys Home in Belfast

Kincora Boys Home in Belfast

Kincora Boys Home in Belfast

Taken at face value, the testimony of Richard Kerr on abuse at Kincora Boys' Home in east Belfast in the 1970s is explosive and compelling. He claims he was abused both there and in London by what appears to have been an organised paedophile ring. And he says he has evidence of MI5 involvement.

His story is tragic. As a teenager he was taken into care after his family life collapsed. His eventual arrival at Kincora led to a life of degradation, including abuse by numerous men and later working as a male prostitute.

One can only guess at the impact this had on his self-worth, as he self-harmed and also tried to commit suicide.

His story adds to the mounting tide of evidence of what went on in that notorious home. It also reinforces the widely held belief that previous investigations which saw three members of staff jailed for abusing 11 boys in their care was far from the complete picture. It has long been suspected that people in senior positions in the intelligence services and in civic society helped cover up the full extent of the abuse.

Whether that indeed is the case can only be determined by a full public inquiry into the allegations of former residents like Richard. Their voices are screaming out to be heard. Their claims are so insistent and consistent that they can no longer be denied a public airing.

Kincora is to be examined in a Northern Ireland inquiry chaired by Sir Anthony Hart QC. While no one doubts that this inquiry will be meticulous in its examination of historic child abuse, including that at Kincora, it does lack the power to compel witnesses to attend. Given the claims being made by former Kincora residents - and how their statements contradict the findings of previous investigations on the scale of the abuse - it is imperative that any new inquiry should have the strongest possible powers of investigation.

The inquiry in London - headed by New Zealand judge Lowell Goddard - into claims that a powerful paedophile ring existed in the very highest echelons of British society fits the bill.

But the Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, has ruled out the Kincora claims being part of that inquiry. Her decision is being challenged in the High Court here. Justice demands that she should change her mind and agree to the demands of these men who say they were grievously abused as vulnerable boys.

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