Today Stormont will debate a private member’s motion, which in itself is a wearily familiar fact.
But although many such motions which fill the Assembly’s order papers are almost meaningless and are only there due to the scarcity of legislation going through the chamber, today’s motion on Kincora is an example of where private member’s motions can be used to good effect.
The motion, introduced by the Alliance Party but on an issue which has widespread support across the Stormont parties, calls on the Government to include Kincora as part of its UK-wide investigation into allegations that historic child abuse was covered up.
Yesterday the name Kincora was again in the news, with the shocking claim that abuse at the former Roman Catholic care home Rubane House may have been worse than that at Kincora, with an estimated 20 per cent of children there seriously abused.
That came to light at the inquiry set up by Stormont to investigate historical allegations of child abuse, but its chair, Sir Anthony Hart, has made clear that there are various aspects of the Kincora affair which he cannot investigate, including allegations that the intelligence agencies knew of the abuse and covered it up.
In bygone decades child abuse was sometimes misunderstood. But revelations about the sexual abuse of children within the Catholic Church, government institutions and by celebrities have brought into the open disturbing truths.
Political consensus in Northern Ireland is rare and on this issue it is not absolute (Sinn Fein is demanding an ‘international independent inquiry’) but there is growing political support for the issue to be included in the Home Office inquiry, with strong backing from the First Minister Peter Robinson and the Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt.
Today the Assembly has a chance to demonstrate political unity and urge the Government to exhaustively and conclusively investigate what happened at Kincora.