Kincora boys’ home to be demolished as legal proceedings continue

Developer describes the bulldozing of the former home as a ‘bittersweet’ moment for victims

A notorious boys’ home in Belfast at the centre of a sex abuse scandal reaching into the highest echelons of the British establishment is to be razed tomorrow in what developers claim will be a “bittersweet” moment for victims.

Kincora opened on Belfast’s Upper Newtownards Road, close to Stormont’s parliament buildings, in May 1958 and closed in October 1980.

A ruling last month that police did not act on complaints about sexual abuse at the home points to evidence of a “wholesale cover-up” and “sinister intelligence agenda”, according to a leading human rights solicitor.

In recent weeks, legal proceedings were initiated alleging that Lord Mountbatten – a great uncle and mentor of King Charles III – abused a boy at the home in the 1970s.


Arthur Smyth, a former resident of Kincora, waived his anonymity to make the allegations against the earl, who was killed by the IRA in Mullaghmore, Co Sligo, in 1979.

More than three years since buying the site of the home, developers Hagan Homes confirmed demolition will begin at 10am on Wednesday and will likely be completed by the afternoon.

The developer said it will “mark something of a bittersweet event for those affected by the incidents that took place here”.

“In one respect the demolition of the building removes the physical reminder of those events but equally, for many, this spot will forever be a blight on this neighbourhood and the setting of much distress,” it said.

Jim Burke of Hagan Homes said: “As we begin the next phase of our development we remember the victims of Kincora Boys Home and support their continued efforts to receive both vindication and justice.”

Planning permission has been granted for nine apartments on the site.

Sir Anthony Hart, chairman of a public inquiry into abuse at Kincora, dismissed allegations of security force or state collusion and ruled that there was no credible evidence that prominent individuals within the establishment were involved.

Instead, failings by the health authorities and the then Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) were blamed after dozens of residents’ complained of being targeted.

Last month the North’s Police Ombudsman Marie Anderson found complaints by former residents that the RUC failed to adequately respond to reports of abuse were “legitimate and justified”.

Ms Anderson received seven separate complaints from survivors of the home about the police’s role in the scandal between 1973 and 1976.

After the ruling, Kevin Winters of KRW law firm, who represents two survivors, said the state and police adopted “the most appalling form of laissez-faire” in response to the boys’ pleas for help.

“That’s bad enough, but that abdication of responsibility points to evidence of a wholesale cover-up which extended way beyond mere police failing to investigate,” he said at the time.

In October, lawyers for Mr Smyth lodged a writ of summons at Belfast’s High Court as part of a case in which he alleges that the late Lord Mountbatten molested him twice at Kincora during the 1970s.

Speaking on Tuesday, Mr Winters said “the very name Kincora has embedded itself in the public consciousness as a byword for horrific historic abuse”.

“The building may well be destroyed now but the political and security apparatus connected to that building destroyed countless young lives,” he said.

“It remains a national disgrace that wider intelligence oversight issues prevailed over the need to have a proper investigation into what went on there.

“Arthur Smyth is the latest survivor to step forward bravely with his specific narrative on abuse by Lord Mountbatten. His case will come to hearing late next year.”

Brian Hutton

Brian Hutton is a freelance journalist and Irish Times contributor