Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 26 May 2016

Women say they suffered sexual abuse by soldiers and police officers while in children's homes in Northern Ireland in the 70s

MP seeks probe into disturbing new allegations

By Liam Clarke

Published 06/09/2014

A group of women have told MP Naomi Long of being sexually expolited by the security forces when they were vulnerable children in the 1970s. Picture posed
A group of women have told MP Naomi Long of being sexually expolited by the security forces when they were vulnerable children in the 1970s. Picture posed
Naomi Long
Lissue Children's Hospital
Paedophile William McGrath

A group of women have come forward with allegations they were abused by members of the security forces while staying at several Northern Ireland care homes in the early days of the Troubles.

The Home Office in London has been asked to investigate claims that figures from the police and Army were involved in abusing the young people while they were residents in Lissue Children's Hospital in Lisburn and a second one in east Antrim.

East Belfast MP Naomi Long raised the issue with the Home Office after hearing the claims of the abuse against "young and vulnerable girls" while at the homes in the 1970s.

Her concerns come on the back of claims of a security force cover-up of the routine abuse of young victims at the Kincora Boys' Home in east Belfast.

Ms Long, a member of the Alliance Party, made the decision after meeting Colin Wallace, a former military intelligence officer and whistleblower whose career suffered after he tried to alert the Press to Kincora in the 1970s. The MP has also met two separate groups of victims.

Peter Robinson, the First Minister, has already called for abuse at Kincora in east Belfast to be included in a UK-wide inquiry. Mrs Long's claims go further and will add to the pressure. She is seeking to raise them in an adjournment debate in the Commons.

She raised her concerns in a letter to Keith Vaz MP, the chair of Westminster's Home Affairs Committee, which she copied to Theresa May, the Home Secretary.

She told Mr Vaz: "Aside from Kincora, which I have referred to previously, I have also met recently with a group of women who have alleged that they were sexually abused by members of the security forces in Lissue Children's Hospital in Lisburn." Ms Long also voiced similar concerns about the east Antrim home.

"These allegations are of an extremely sensitive nature but involve the security forces and others in the abuse of young and vulnerable girls," she said.

Ms Long (below) added: "I do not believe abuse which took place in Northern Ireland involved only victims and perpetrators from Northern Ireland.

"There have been suggestions of children being moved between different locations where abuse took place and also perpetrators – largely members of the security forces and senior public figures – who visited several homes and locations of abuse.

"For example, I recently met with former Army captain Colin Wallace, who informed me that he was aware of boys being brought from different children's homes to be abused in Kincora. I believe, like Colin, that it is essential to look at this from a UK-wide perspective."

She continued: "This reiterates the seriousness of all these allegations and the need to fully investigate all allegations in order to uncover the truth for survivors of abuse, and also to safeguard against potential future abuse."

A second group of women who claimed to have been abused when staying at three other homes in Northern Ireland were brought to see Ms Long by retired solicitor Pádraigín Drinan.

"They told me that when they escaped from the homes they were staying in, it would be reported and they were often sexually assaulted by the Army or police if they found them.

"One woman said a nun had told her, 'That is what you can expect if you run away'. One assault took place in Liverpool. This happened in the early 70s," Ms Drinan told the Belfast Telegraph.

Mrs Long said that she believed that at best a blind eye was turned to child abuse at Kincora by the intelligence agencies and at worst it was used to blackmail or control agents like William McGrath, a Kincora housefather found to have raped boys in his care.

Ms Long said: "The allegations are twofold. The first is that the security services knew of the abuse and actively prevented the police and the Army from properly investigating it. The second allegation is that they actually used the abuse as a way to trap people and have information on them that could be used as leverage.

"This would mean that they actively permitted the abuse to continue because doing so served political or intelligence motives of their own."

Ms Long said meeting victims had been harrowing and that she believed the present generation of politicians owed it to them to give them the proper hearing which had been denied before.

She stated: "My fear with Kincora is that if we don't include it in the inquiry now, we will never know, because sadly many of the people who were victims of the abuse have died already and others are in ill-health.

"We are already reaching the point where the people who perpetrated the abuse are also much older and dying too. There will never be any justice unless we get it now."

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