Northern Ireland

Abuse inquiry: Theresa May appears to rule out extending scope to Northern Ireland

Theresa May Image copyright PA
Image caption Theresa May said the terms of reference make clear that the inquiry will liaise with its counterparts elsewhere in the United Kingdom

Home Secretary Theresa May appears to have ruled out extending the scope of a child sexual abuse inquiry to cover Northern Ireland and Scotland.

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

It highlighted the case of Kincora Boys' Home in Belfast in the 1970s, where MI5 has been accused of covering up abuse.

Ms May stated again on Thursday that child protection is a devolved matter.

She made the comments as she named a new four-person panel, as the inquiry into child sex abuse in England and Wales officially starts work.

Ms May said she knew that survivors were keen that the inquiry be extended beyond England and Wales, but as child protection is a devolved matter, it is "right that other jurisdictions in the United Kingdom look at the issues within their own geographical remit so that they can take the action which is right to address the specific issues uncovered".

"I have said before, I am clear that no institution or individual should be able to fall through the gaps because of geographical boundaries," she said.

"The terms of reference make clear that the inquiry will liaise with its counterparts elsewhere in the United Kingdom.

"To that end my officials have had initial discussions with the Scottish government, who are in the process of setting up their own inquiry, the Hart Inquiry in Northern Ireland and the Independent Jersey Care Inquiry and have agreed with them and with the Child Sexual Abuse Inquiry that joint protocols will be set up with each inquiry to ensure that information can be shared and lines of investigation can be followed across geographical boundaries."

The new panel members for the inquiry in England and Wales are Drusilla Sharpling, Professor Alexis Jay, Ivor Frank and Malcolm Evans.

They will serve alongside the New Zealand judge, Lowell Goddard, who is heading the inquiry.

New terms of reference have been agreed, these include removing any cut off dates.

Ms May said the inquiry would also reflect the importance of survivors, who will be able to appear as witnesses.

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