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17 July 2014

The government, Kincora and child abuse

The government, Kincora and child abuse

There is growing pressure for the former Kincora Boys' home to be included in the government inquiry into child sexual abuse.

It seems there is no end to the sad stream of stories emerging across the UK and Ireland about institutional child sexual abuse. In the last few years systematic abuse has been uncovered across religious, public and private bodies.

The Kincora case is particularly shocking. It is alleged that abuse of young boys took place in the care home by a paedophile ring that included high-profile military figures, politicians, members of the legal profession and civil servants. This abuse took place in the early and worst days of the Troubles when the province was in the throes of violent civil unrest. British Security services, such as MI5, were operating covertly at this time, running informers and agents within a range of legal and illegal organisations.

It is alleged that MI5 knew of the abuse at Kincora but took no action to stop it. Instead, it is further alleged, that MI5 monitored those who came to abuse children, perhaps with a view to using the threat of this intelligence against those individuals in return for assistance. Former assistant chief constable, Alan McQuillan has given credibility to these claims. Previous police investigations have been met with legal and political frustrations. Files have gone missing at Whitehall and police investigations have been blocked by the Ministry of Defence and national security agencies. This case and the alleged cover-up has a number of disturbing parallels with similar investigations into child abuse in Lambeth, London.

This issue of independence of the government inquiry on child abuse is in the news again after Lady Butler-Sloss stepped down as chair under mounting pressure earlier this week. The deputy first minister in Northern Ireland has said that there should be an independent, international inquiry into Kincora given that "the British State is clearly incapable of investigating itself".

Allegations of the British government complicit in cover-ups over child abuse are almost incredible. Those tasked with the greatest powers and responsibility our nation can bestow actively failing to protect our most at risk children.

It's easy to dismiss children. They're small, vulnerable and can be easily scared into silence. When the disciples tried to dismiss the children who were flocking around Jesus he said this, 'Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depth of the sea' (Matthew 18.5.6) He also said, 'Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the Kingdom of Heaven' (Matthew 19.14 ESV)

These are heavy words and in the face of these extremely serious allegations we remind ourselves that Jesus takes children extremely seriously. And so should we, Jesus' followers are called to speak and live and love like Him. To see the Kingdom of God when we see children. Throughout the whole of scripture children are to be treasured by God's people. It's elementary, child's stuff really.

It's why evangelical Christians are passionate about marriage and family wellbeing.

It's why, even though the Church has been part of this problem, Christians are seeking to be part of the solution in safeguarding children and helping them flourish. The Church also occupies an even more socially radical space pointing to hope and forgiveness for those abusers willing to repent and accept Jesus as Lord.

It's why in Northern Ireland around two thirds of youth and Children's work is carried out by Church and para-Church bodies.

It's why the Alliance has co-founded a campaign organisation to help the Church to help more children in care find a Home for Good.

As Christians we watch these cases with interest. We seek truth, justice and compassion. We pray and advocate for those affected that truth may set free.