The former Kincora boys’ home in Belfast. Abuse at the home has been described by Amnesty International as ‘one of the most disturbing scandals to emerge from the Troubles’.
Wednesday 1 June 2016 08.28 EDT
Hundreds of files marked “top secret” have been declassified as part of the inquiry into the Kincora boys’ home in which it is alleged the security services blackmailed a paedophile ring that operated there during the Troubles.
The inquiry into the historical scandal heard on Wednesday that the sensitive police files were now in the possession of the tribunal sitting at Banbridge courthouse.
Child abuse inquiry to focus on Kincora home and claims of MI5 blackmail
Barrister and counsel to the tribunal, Joseph Aiken, said: “When the inquiry began this was all marked secret. At the request of the inquiry it has all been declassified by the PSNI and made available to the inquiry.”
The abuse at Kincora has been described by Amnesty International as “one of the most disturbing scandals to emerge from the Troubles”. It is alleged MI5 and special branch turned a blind eye to the abuse of boys at the east Belfast home because they were blackmailing the perpetrators to spy on fellow hardline Ulster loyalists.
Addressing the three-person panel heading the inquiry and chaired by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart, Aiken said: “Although it is an established fact that children were abused by staff in Kincora, this inquiry in addition has to address amongst others a range of extraordinary allegations not that the state failed to prevent abuse because of missed opportunities or ineffective systems of oversight and regulation, but that it with deliberation and planning cynically orchestrated and utilised the abuse of children it was supposed to care for in order to further its own ends.
“If true, that would mean those who had the privilege and responsibility of protecting citizens compounded the pain of those who suffered as a result. If the allegations are no more than rumours and suspicion they have the effect of heaping further unnecessary misery on the victims of abuse in Kincora.”
At least 29 boys were sexually abused by Kincora housemaster and prominent Orange Order member, William McGrath, and others at the home. One boy is said to have killed himself followings years of abuse, by jumping off a ferry into the Irish Sea in the late 1970s.
Kincora was closed in 1980 after revelations of abuse. In 1981, McGrath, who was an MI5 informant, and two other men were jailed. In relation to McGrath the inquiry has been shown one secret file describing the Kincora housemaster as an “intelligent though devious man who needs extremely careful handling”. The military intelligence file states that McGrath would be a potential mine of information to the army.
Kincora is the 15th institution being investigated across Northern Ireland over allegations of child sexual abuse.
The inquiry continues source