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Former resident and survivor Jim Miller now lives in Canada and is unable to watch the Victorian structure being razed to the ground
Demolition work has begun on the former Kincora boys’ home where dozens of children were abused.
Diggers arrived at the scene of the "house of horrors” in east Belfast on Wednesday morning to make way for a new residential development.
Former resident and abuse survivor Jim Miller now lives in Canada and is unable to watch the Victorian structure being razed to the ground.
"You can erase the physical building from the Upper Newtownards Road, but you can never erase it from my memory, he said.
"You can’t unrape someone, you can never undo it - once it’s done, it’s done.
"You can destroy the house, but you can never change what happened inside it."
Construction company 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 firm acknowledged that today will be "bittersweet" for all those who suffered abuse at the home which opened in May 1958.
“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 in a statement.
Mr Miller agreed “it’s certainly a milestone” for those who’ve been campaigning to have the building torn down.
“Forty-two years since it closed and it’s finally going to have the axe fall”, he said, “but people never forget.”
Mr Miller said it won’t just be victims paying attention to the demolition, but those with secrets to bury.
“I believe perpetrators who have got away with what they did will be watching too," he said.
The historical institutional abuse inquiry found that 39 boys were abused at Kincora.
However, the inquiry found no evidence that security agencies were complicit in the abuse.
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”.