Amnesty calls on new chair of sex abuse inquiry to investigate Kincora boys' home
Amnesty International has called on Fiona Woolf, the newly announced chair of the government's child sexual abuse inquiry, to investigate abuse and its alleged cover-up at Belfast’s Kincora Boys’ Home.
Today the Home Secretary announced that Fiona Woolf CBE JP will chair the inquiry announced in July. Amnesty said it will write to Fiona Woolf requesting the inclusion of Kincora within the panel's terms of reference.
Amnesty said it will also be asking Fiona Woolf to make a request to the Government that the Official Secrets Act be suspended to enable potential witnesses, such as former intelligence officers, to give evidence about alleged cover-ups to the child abuse inquiry.
Three senior care staff at the east Belfast children’s home were jailed in 1981 for abusing 11 boys, but it is feared that there were many more victims and abusers during the period between 1960 and 1980. Allegations have persisted that paedophilia at Kincora was linked to the British intelligence services. Two former military intelligence officers, Colin Wallace and Brian Gemmell, have come forward in recent weeks with allegations that the security services blocked investigation of the child abuse in the mid-1970s. The abuse continued until 1980.
Amnesty's call for Kincora to be included in the inquiry has received backing from politicians across the political spectrum in Northern Ireland, including First Minister Peter Robinson, who has raised the issue with the Prime Minister.
Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland programme Director Patrick Corrigan said:
“The Home Secretary has still not responded to Amnesty International's letter of two months ago, requesting the inclusion of Kincora within the remit of the inquiry. Nor have we had a response to our call for the Official Secrets Act to be suspended so that the truth about Kincora can finally be told.
“We will be writing to Fiona Woolf, as the Chair of the Inquiry, to request that she takes decisive action on both these points so that public confidence in her inquiry is not undermined before it even starts work.
“With Kincora, the power to secure the release of key documents from Whitehall or MI5 filing cabinets is absolutely vital.
“These are deeply disturbing claims - that MI5 turned a blind eye to child abuse and actively blocked a police investigation, instead using the paedophile ring for its own intelligence-gathering purposes.
“Nothing less than the inclusion of the Kincora home in the new inquiry and the waiving of the Official Secrets Act, is likely to see the truth about this murky episode emerge.”