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Child abuse: Amnesty condemns exclusion of Kincora scandal from UK inquiry

‘By excluding Kincora, the Home Secretary looks like she is now playing her part in a decades-long cover-up’ – Patrick Corrigan

As a UK government-established inquiry into historical child sexual abuse opens, Amnesty International has condemned the exclusion of the Kincora Boys’ Home scandal in Northern Ireland from its scope.

Allegations have persisted for decades that a paedophile ring at Kincora Boys’ Home in east Belfast was linked to the British intelligence services. Two former military intelligence officers have alleged that the security services blocked police investigations into the child abuse in the 1970s.

The government has so far refused calls for the paedophile abuse scandal at the Belfast home to be included within the scope of the inquiry established by Home Secretary Theresa May and headed by New Zealand judge Lowell Goddard. The inquiry gets under way today.

Amnesty first called for the investigation into child abuse at Kincora to be included in the wider Westminster child abuse inquiry back in July 2014, when it was originally announced by the Home Secretary.

The Home Secretary has since refused to allow Kincora to be investigated by the inquiry, despite a recommendation from the Commons Home Affairs Committee and strong cross-party support in the Northern Ireland Assembly. Instead, the UK government has asked Northern Ireland's historic institutional abuse inquiry, which lacks powers to compel evidence or witnesses from government agencies, to investigate the claims.

Amnesty International’s Northern Ireland Programme Director Patrick Corrigan, said:

“By excluding Kincora from the only inquiry which has the power to establish the truth about the role the intelligence services and establishment figures may have played in the paedophile ring, the Home Secretary looks like she is now playing her part in a decades-long cover-up.

“Most people in Northern Ireland believe that the conspiracy of silence, which has surrounded Kincora for forty years, now continues under this government.

“The claims that MI5 turned a blind eye to child abuse, actively blocked a police investigation, and instead used the paedophile ring for intelligence-gathering purposes, could scarcely be more disturbing.

“It is not too late for the government to reconsider its position. Kincora should be investigated alongside claims of establishment involvement in child abuse rings in other parts of the UK.

“Nothing less than a full public inquiry – with all the powers of compulsion which that brings - can finally reveal what happened at Kincora.”


Three senior staff – William McGrath, Raymond Semple and Joseph Mains – were jailed in 1981 for the abuse, but there have been suggestions of a mass cover-up by MI5, which was rumoured to be protecting high-ranking paedophiles in the military, Civil Service and politics.

One of the child sex abuse victims from Kincora is challenging the home's exclusion from the inquiry in a judicial review being considered in Belfast High Court. Gary Hoy, who was abused by two of the men who were subsequently convicted, is taking legal action to force a full independent inquiry with the power to compel witnesses and the security services to hand over documents.

The judicial review case has heard allegations that MI5 was involved in covering up the sexual abuse of children in order to protect an intelligence-gathering operation it ran in the 1970s.

Hoy, in a sworn affidavit for his application for judicial review, said:

“I know there was a lot more involved in the abuse and who knew of the abuse than just the three men convicted. I believe that many of these people had power, and included MLAs, MPs and paramilitaries. It makes me mad that they all could get away with it so easily. These people are hiding and protecting other people. I want to know who was involved and what they did.

“I find the whole thing frightening, and at times am frightened that people in authority will want my mouth shut, and want it all brushed under the carpet like it had been years ago.

“Because of this I believe we need a strong inquiry that is able to discover once and for all what happened in that place.”

A decision in the judicial review case is expected in the Autumn.

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