The Kincora House scandal that appeared in 1980 isn’t going away. It’s now a lifetime ago.That was the year I got married; thirty six years ago in a life where I’ve seen my three daughters grow up to have adult lives of their own… and still it trundles on. The abuse that happened within the walls of this boys’ home and further afield are not likely to be forgotten by the victims unless they should all die. Much like the muddied affairs of Norneverland throughout the Troubles nothing has been resolved and the truth has not been told and seen to be told adequately enough to sate the public’s curiosity and also to give some semblance of justice to anyone whose life has been saddened or destroyed. Many believe that this poisonous can of political and immoral pus has joined several others that are being steadily kicked down a long road in the hope that a generation of politicians and Establishment figures will be dead, buried and beyond the law , while everyone else will no longer care or remember.Some believe that social stability would be much better were we all able to forget this sordid past affair. The facts are that a lot of boys were systematically raped for years in a very horrific way . It was a bit like shooting very vulnerable fish in a barrel.
“Kincora” encapsulates all the hypocrisy of life and politics in Norneverland and it has rumbled on now for some forty years ,sucking into its wake politicians, clergymen , the Establishment, the Armed Services, the RUC, the Secret Services such as M15, government ministers, the Orange Order and even Loyalist paramilitaries.; child abuse and paedophilia on the scale of that old vampire Jimmy Savile’s horrific, clandestine story and with even further -reaching consequences than those involving BBC or entertainment personalities. Some of the most prominent worthies in society seem to be in the frame with some credible allegations of collusion between the state at the highest level and criminal elements. There is much grist to be milled but there is also a very obvious reticence to get the mill-wheel grinding.
One of the first to highlight the enormity and far-reaching nature of the criminality involved was first the Irish Independent in 1980 and the spiky little satirical magazine, “Private Eye” .also got its teeth into the scandal . The notion that high-ranking members of the Whitehall Civil Service and senior officers of the British military were involved in the sexual abuse of boys in Kincora was fair game for the little magazine that had been exposing and lampooning political corruption since the dawn of the 1960’s .To them it was simply just another story but it stretched right into the dark heart of Norneverland politics and was more than just a story to the victims.
It all came to light as early as 1977. One of the victims had actually been locked away to prevent him from talking and was given no help from social workers.Although police files existed a number of people have been forbidden under the Oficial Secrets Act from contributing any revealing information about what appeared to be an official cover-up.Apparently it involved children from 10 to 17. One man was suspected of having made large amounts of money by hiring out boys for sexual sevices.
It has been alleged that extreme Ulster loyalists connected to a group called Tara were members of a paedophile ring committing offences at the Kincora Home in Belfast and had been blackmailed by MI5 and other branches of the security forces ,early in the Troubles. As late as last year, in 2015, campaigners were still trying to have Kincora included in a wide-ranging inquiry to finally establish the truth as to whether the security services had blocked inquiries on the abuse to protect some of the perpetrators.Just why would they want them protected?
Until this time there had been no proper court hearing about the alleged cover-up and whatever British state agents had been involved . Victims of the abuse alleged that a cover-up of their abuse had already lasted for several decades.Following the Jimmy Savile inquiry an Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in England and Wales was being set up but the Government is still intent on keeping the Kincora case out of this and want the toothless remit of the Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (NIHIAI) only. They want it kept in a tight little box on its own where M15 can’t be asked to make any contribution.
The victims , now a handful of grown -up, damaged adult men, want an all encompassing inquiry into this case, with powers to compel witnesses to testify. Heels are still being dragged.
Apparently the home was the scene of abuse virtually from the day in 1958 when it opened , ironically as a refuge for 10 t0 17 year old boys facing abuse in their own homes . It was a case of “out of the frying pan right into the fire” for them. The home soon became a hotbed of paedophilia and abuse on a seemingly well-organised scale.Rape was a regular feature.
There had been previous reports that the RUC had information about all of this but they sat on it for some reason .Later, on 3rd April 1980 ,three members of staff at the home, William McGrath, Raymond Semple and Joseph Mains, were charged with a number of offences relating to the well -ingrained and systematic sexual abuse of children in their care over many years; . Joseph Mains, who had been the warden, was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment; Raymond Semple, an assistant warden got five years, and William McGrath was gaoled in December 1981 for four years. It wasn’t just a case of simple predatory child abuse by opportunistic men. There was much more.William McGrath , for example ,was also the leader of an even odder than usual ,loyalist paramilitary gang named “Tara”, and it has been postulated in investigations that there was the likelihood that he had been employed by MI5 since the 1960s , agents of which with knowledge of his sexual procliities had been blackmailing him into providing intelligence on other loyalist connected groups.
A church member,Valerie Shaw, of the Reverend Ian Paisley’s Free Presbyterian’s flock ,had informed him about the loyalist group and specifically McGrath’s homosexual paedophilia and the activities at the home ,but Paisley sat on the information too; this at a time when Paisley’s battle -cry was “Save Ulster From Sodomy”. Of course , this particular paedophile sodomist was also a good Loyal Son of Ulster, right wing to the maximum and a proud sash-wearing , commie-Catholic hating Orangeman too.McGrath was never a member of Paisley’s church but he greatly admired the man for his skill in getting protestants mobilised on the streets “To Defend Ulster”, in much the same way he supported Gusty Spence’s UVF murder of two Catholics. He was the worst kind of bigoted , right-winger that anyone could imagine, seeing communists and catholics in the same unsanctified and paranoid light. In McGrath’s world, the two Catholics were commies who deserved all they got.McGrath’s mad British Israelite views sat well with many in the loyalist UVF . When it was discovered that McGrath was a homosexual, the link between the two groups was sundered.Mad right-wing bigotry was one thing, but homosexuality was a step too far …especially when the homosexual was also a child-abusing paedophile. Even the UVF who had no problem killing Catholics ,had its limits, seemingly.
It would be foolish to believe that as his profile grew, those in the know didn’t know exactly what this man was about. McGrath was known as being influential enough to in- part encourage the setting-up of the UDA in 1971 and had hopes that it it would be the replacement for the recently disbanded notorious “B Men” ( Special Constabulary).I remember that those were very scary times to live in Belfast with the UDA being mobilised on a street -by- street basis.
The Tara group , much like Paisley himself, never actually dirtied their hands with the violence they encouraged by their various noxious tracts, but in 1974 the group smuggled in a consignment of guns from Holland for them to use in the event of the always threatening “doomsday” situation , which like the Second Coming or The Rapture, was always just a step away ,over the horizon .McGrath’s group of associates also later smuggled weapons for the UDA and Paisley’s Ulster Resistance project ,although by that time he was already gaoled for rape.Still McGrath remained a prominent member of the Orange Order . He finally tendered his resignation under duress but the Orange Order rejected that and instead voted to dump him first before he dumped them . He did try to rejoin several times in later years without success, obviously thinking that the Orange Order was ,in the end ,his real home….his kind of people. That was a step too far, even for them.
The RUC were accused of not fully investigating any of these claims about McGrath and Kincora rigorously enough or with enough sincerity and a private inquiry led by Jim Prior in 1982 collapsed due to lack of worthwhile evidence. It seems there may have been instructions handed down from higher up to bury it, so their hands might have been tied in part. As the years went by the scandal was pushed further back, but in 1990 it was stated in a Dublin magazine called “NOW” that the Kincora House had featured in a series of gay orgies conducted throughout Ireland and the UK. Many very high-profile Establishment names were mentioned in connection with the widespread abuse of young boys and men .
Shockingly, names such as Sir Anthony Blunt and Prince Charles’ favourite uncle Louis Mountbatten were mentioned and all were implied to have been involved in an “old boys” network of similar predators. The reporter was threatened with libel to frighten him off once this information began to circulate.People began making more connections though. The idea that Louis Mountbatten was a raging homosexual or bisexual was something to stir the imagination at a time when such thoughts were almost unthinkable.; to think that he might also be a wild rapist was a new twist.That kind of perception is why the likes of Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris escaped censure for so long, though.
The most compelling evidence actually comes from the mouths of those who have been abused . They know exactly who was involved and some speak of being sex-trafficked around this network of abusers .Their testimony is hard to refute and yet , nothing concrete has come of their pleas for justice . You have to wonder how deep into the Establishment this scandal goes.
One man worth watching is Richard Kerr who has claimed to have been molested by what he describes as “very powerful people” .He claims to have been attacked sexually in London at the Dolphin Square luxury apartment complex and also the Elm guest House where he had been brought.He claims that himself and two other boys were specifically hand-picked to be sex-trafficked to London from Kincora extending the in-house abuse across to England in 1977.His companions have since committed suicide ,unfortunately , which leaves him as a lone witness.He claims to have been tied up and photographed in the Elm Guest House ,in a form of bondage.The house was raided in 1981 where the police found bondage paraphenalia such as whips and chains. He cited some powerful men whom he believes were powerful politicians. Dolphin House is also a location that is the centre of alleged sexual child abuse and murder which is being investigated by Scotland Yard.
Some might wish to believe that he is a fantasist and might want to paint him in that light given that he appears to stand almost alone in his claims, with his companions dead, but why would he wish to make up such a story and expose himself to ridicule and possible danger if there was not some truth in his allegations? He provides some intimate detail of his encounters but it would need to be fleshed -out with actual names ,of course. Certainly for such a high -profile case that has stirred the public imagination there appear to be some holes in it regarding filed evidence, missing files and such… and a distinctive dragging of many heels too reach an open conclusion.
The list of prominent names that have bubbled to the surface in relation to sexual abuse and a supposed nationwide paedophile ring is interesting in itself.It includes such worthies as :
Enoch Powell, former South Down MP, Cyril Smith Liberal MP, Leon Brittan, home Secretary, an unidentified member of the Royal family (who may have been the aforementioned Mountbatten or someone else entirely), Sir Peter Hayman, Joshua “Joss” Cardwell, a unionist politician who was chairman of the committee responsible for children’s homes, and the spy Sir Anthony Blunt. Apparently many files concerning these individuals have been ” lost ” or redacted but what is left makes for some very interesting reading.
It will certainly be very interesting to see how this develops….