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Kincora: MI5 'must hand over files on abuse at east Belfast boys' home'

By Chris Kilpatrick

Any secret files compiled by MI5 on the Kincora child sex abuse scandal must be handed over to the authorities for victims to finally get justice, a senior politician has said.

The vice-chair of Stormont's justice committee said an inquiry with the powers to subpoena any information held by the British intelligence services must be set up to investigate abuse at the east Belfast boys' home.

Sinn Fein's Raymond McCartney said claims MI5 and others blocked police investigations into the home between 1960 and 1980 had to be thoroughly investigated.

"Only a properly constituted public inquiry with powers of subpoena can uncover the whole truth and provide justice for the victims," he said.

"If, as alleged, MI5 recorded the abuse of young boys at Kincora, then any inquiry must have full powers to compel witnesses to appear and access all files relating to this issue."

The scandal was referred to in several files released by the Public Record Office under the 30-year rule last December. However, the files had been redacted with key papers removed – while one file couldn't be found.

The Kincora scandal emerged in January 1980.

It was later claimed the RUC had been informed of the abuse at the home years earlier but did nothing. One of those responsible for the abuse was said to be on the payroll of MI5.

A confidential Government note in the files said: "It is claimed that influence was brought to bear on the police not to pursue their enquiries."

It added: "There are persistent rumours that 'guilty men' in high places have not been brought to justice." The note concluded that it was unlikely the "vague rumours" would be substantiated.

Mr McCartney said: "This is not the first time that allegations of MI5 involvement in this scandal have emerged.

"However, the British intelligence services have consistently been more concerned with covering up their involvement rather than in achieving justice for the victims of serial abusers.

"There needs to be a full investigation into the awful abuse at Kincora Boys' Home and nothing less than full disclosure is acceptable."

The new Hillsborough-style inquiry announced by the Home Secretary does have the power to demand access to secret files.

Three senior care staff at the east Belfast children's home were jailed in 1981 for abusing 11 boys in their care. East Belfast Alliance MP Naomi Long said that given the remit of the Westminster inquiry, it was perhaps "a better vehicle" for Kincora.

"We haven't really dispelled the rumours surrounding the Kincora scandal. There are victims still around and they deserve justice."

Story so far

On Tuesday, Amnesty International called for Kincora to be included in a new UK-wide inquiry into child sex abuse announced by Home Secretary Theresa May.

The current Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry into child abuse at institutions in Northern Ireland includes Kincora, but has only limited powers. It cannot compel the release of files from Whitehall or the secret services.

Further reading

Kincora: Time we knew full truth of Belfast's house of horrors

Editor's viewpoint: We must know truth of Kincora  

Child abuse inquiry must look at Kincora Boys' Home, says Amnesty International

MI5 'blocked exposure of Kincora sex abuse scandal'

Kincora Boy's Home scandal: South African intelligence 'secretly backed loyalist paramilitary group Tara'

Kincora Boys' Home scandal: journalist Peter McKenna dies

State papers: The perjury that allowed Kincora suspect preacher to walk

Westminster’s dark secret: abuse of children, adultery, homosexuality and sadomasochism were all seemingly lumped together

Civil servant Mark Sedwill admits Home Office ‘probably’ destroyed paedophile dossiers  

Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, sister of former Tory attorney general Sir Michael Havers, to lead UK child abuse inquiry

Westminster child abuse dossier: Geoffrey Dickens also gave copy of file to top prosecutor Sir Thomas Hetherington - so why did DPP fail to act on evidence of paedophile ring?  

Historic child abuse files missing

Tory peer Lord Brittan defends handling of 1980s sex abuse dossier

Abuse claims police matter - Clegg

Abuse probe 'into soul of society'

From the archives

Kincora: Sex racket at children's home (Irish Independent, 1980)

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