Sinn Fein has called for an inquiry into abuses at Kincora Boys’ Home in east Belfast to be fully independent amid new allegations that the matter was covered up by the British authorities.
Kincora is one of a number of children’s homes which could come under a new inquiry into historical abuses at institutions in the North of Ireland. The new inquiry -- triggered by allegations of an establishment cover-up of a paedophile ring at the Westminster parliament in London -- may be extended to include the unionist-run children’s home, which became notorious for child abuses dating from the early 1970s.
In 1981 three senior members of staff, including William McGrath, were jailed for abusing 11 boys at the east Belfast home. McGrath was a leading member of the Protestant Orange Order and a founder member of a loyalist paramilitary organisation, and has been accused of operating a paedophile ring for British establishment figures.
One victim, Clint Massey has said that he had been abused by William McGrath. He said Kincora must be included in the new inquiry. “I strongly believe there’s a lot more to come out,” he said. “The authorities knew what was going on.”
He said that even as a child he had complained to the then RUC police of abuse, but was thrown out of the station.
“I went to Strandtown police station to complain I was being treated really badly - I wasn’t going to mention sexual abuse, I couldn’t even bring myself to say it.
“I was literally thrown out on my ear. I’d always looked up to the police but they refused to hear anything said about the people running Kincora.
“They were ‘pillars of society’. I knew then I was totally alone, no-one who could help me.
“My social worker wouldn’t even come into the home, she used to park around the corner and I’d meet her in her car. The people that worked there were so creepy, I think she was afraid to step foot in there”.
Claims have persisted that the paedophilia practiced at Kincora was linked to British intelligence services, MI5. Visitors to the home included members of the military, senior unionist politicians and civil servants.
Previous investigations into abuse at Kincora were allegedly blocked by the British Ministry of Defence, but there have been calls for the new Westminster inquiry to have the power to compel the release of files from both the British government and its secret services.
Amnesty international said that given the nature of the allegations over Kincora, this was “exactly” where any secrets are likely to lie.
Sinn Fein Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness said the British state is “incapable of investigating itself” and that a new inquiry needs to be “international, independent and have the powers to subpoena witnesses and access documents”.
“There have been a number of scandals around the activities of the British intelligence services in Ireland, including the murder of human rights solicitor Pat Finucane and collusion in the killings of hundreds of nationalists,” he said.
“The British government has spent decades trying to cover up the activities of its intelligence services in Ireland. The British state is clearly incapable of investigating itself.
“Therefore, to be effective, any inquiry into the abuse of children at the Kincora Boys’ Home needs to be international, independent and have the powers to subpoena witnesses and access documents.”