Election 2015 Northern Ireland

Labour 'will add Kincora' into UK sex abuse inquiry

Kincora Boys Home Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption The Kincora Boys' Home in east Belfast was at the centre of a child abuse scandal in the 1980s

Northern Ireland's shadow secretary of state has said a Labour government would include historical abuse at an east Belfast boys' home into a national sex abuse inquiry if elected.

Ivan Lewis said the suffering of victims at Kincora had been "unimaginable".

There has been a long-running campaign to add the home into a UK-wide inquiry.

Home Secretary Theresa May has repeatedly said child protection is a devolved matter.

In February, a Home Affairs Committee report said the inquiry in England and Wales should be extended.

'All steps necessary'

Ms May said the scope of the inquiry would not be extended to include Northern Ireland and Scotland.

Three senior care staff at Kincora in east Belfast were jailed in 1981 for abusing 11 boys.

At least 29 boys were abused at the home between the late 1950s and the early 1980s.

One of the men who was later convicted, William McGrath, is believed to have been an MI5 agent.

Allegations remain that some members of the British intelligence services knew of the abuse and helped to cover it up.

The home is being investigated as part of Northern Ireland's own inquiry into child sex abuse, the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry (HIA), but the inquiry's chairman Sir Anthony Harte does not have the powers to compel witnesses or documents from agencies like MI5.

The Secretary of State Theresa Villiers has insisted that all state agencies will co-operate with the inquiry.

Campaigners have said including Kincora in the UK inquiry would allow new information about the home to be revealed.

Mr Lewis said abuse scarred survivors for the rest of their lives, and that a Labour government would "take all steps necessary to secure truth and justice for the victims".

"It is vital that we support the survivors, ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice and ensure this never happens again in our country," he said.

Amnesty International welcomed Mr Lewis' comments.

"But justice for victims of abuse shouldn't be reliant on the outcome of an election," Amnesty's Patrick Corrigan added.

"We call on all parties to make a similar pledge to deliver truth and justice to the Kincora victims."

Judicial review

The UK-wide inquiry has been the subject of controversy after numerous attempts to find a judge to chair the panel.

Fiona Woolf and Lady Butler-Sloss were appointed last year, but both later stepped down from the position.

New Zealand High Court judge Lowell Goddard was appointed earlier this year.

She has previously told the Home Affairs committee that she was willing to discuss the inclusion of Kincora into the UK inquiry with Theresa May.

In February, a High Court judge in Northern Ireland granted leave for a judicial review to be taken into how the investigation into abuse at Kincora is dealt with.

It is scheduled to take place on 1 June.

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