There is relief after demolition work got underway at Kincora, the former notorious boys home in east Belfast where children were abused.
Construction company Hagan Homes is carrying out the work at the site in Upper Newtownards Road today to make way for homes.
Former resident Gary Hoy was among those who watched on as a digger moved in.
After decades of waiting, former Kincora resident Gary Hoy said he was glad to see the building destroyed but the painful memories of his time there would never leave him. @irish_news pic.twitter.com/vhViAUIo9e— Allan Preston (@AllanPreston) November 23, 2022
DUP MLA David Brooks described a “very significant and poignant day” for east Belfast – and particularly for former residents of the home.
“People more generally in east Belfast will also be glad to see what is somewhat of a scar on the community gone,” he said.
“It probably should have happened sooner. I sat on the (Belfast City Council) planning committee. There had been previous applications; there were issues that didn’t allow the planning committee to make the decision to move on with it at that stage.
“No one on that committee was unaware of the significant that went beyond mere structures. My colleague Gavin Robinson MP has been pushing for quite some time when there was that hesitancy within council on it.
“I think it’s great to see the day has finally come.”
Mr Brooks added: “I can’t speak for the victims, I can only imagine the relief that might come from not having to walk past this building – drive past this building on a daily or weekly basis – and be reminded of the horrors that took place here.
“Gavin Robinson called it a memorial to misery and I think that’s what it has become, and I think everyone here will be relieved to see it gone.”
Hagan Homes bought the site in 2019 and said it was “fully aware of its notorious history and, at every step of the planning process and future activity, it continues to recognise the suffering and wrongdoings that took place here”.
The Kincora home, close to Stormont’s Parliament Buildings, opened in May 1958.
It closed in October 1980 after a sex abuse scandal.
The historical institutional abuse inquiry found 39 boys were abused at Kincora.
The inquiry found no evidence security agencies were complicit.
In 1981, three men were jailed for abusing 11 boys.
A recent report by Marie Anderson, the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland (Poni), said complaints from some former residents about the failure of police to investigate allegations of sexual abuse at Kincora were “legitimate and justified”.