Belfast Telegraph

Call to probe Kincora abuse cases

Victims of the Kincora sex abuse scandal have been left outside the pursuit for justice, the Northern Ireland Assembly has heard.

Judith Cochrane said the east Belfast boys' home must be included as part of the government inquiry into historic child abuse if survivors are to ever have closure.

The Alliance Party representative told MLAs debating the issue at Stormont: "The victims and survivors of Kincora deserve justice but to date they have been left as outsiders.

"The Woolf Inquiry, if the correct powers are granted to it by the Home Office regarding witnesses testifying who are subject to the Official Secrets Act, is the way to properly consider the allegations and help the victims put their nightmares to rest."

In 1981, three senior staff members - William McGrath, Joseph Mains and William Semple - were jailed for their part in abusing young boys at Kincora.

However, allegations that the security services covered it up to protect and exploit high ranking paedophiles in the civil service, military and politics have persisted.

Ms Cochrane added: "What differentiates Kincora from other cases are the allegations which persist that the government and its agencies such as MI5 had full knowledge of the allegations at the time and acted to prevent appropriate investigation taking place.

"There's further evidence that MI5 was actually complicit in the abuse in order to collect information which could be used to blackmail those in positions of power."

Democratic Unionist MLA S ammy Douglas, who lives one-and-a-half miles from Kincora, said it had been a "national scandal" which shamed Northern Ireland.

In July, the Government announced it would hold an inquiry into allegations that figures in Westminster and Whitehall were implicated in covering up child abuse and that police and other authorities die not properly investigate high profile offenders.

It will be headed by Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf.

Home Secretary Theresa May has come under increasing pressure to widen the remit to include Kincora.

Sinn Fein MLA Caitriona Ruane said her party had concerns about the British establishment investigating itself and called for an independent inquiry into Kincora.

She said: "There needs to be an independent investigation that has the powers and remit to acess the files and information held at the highest level.

"There needs to be a strong, independent inquiry into what happened at Kincora and what the role of the British establishment was.

"We also need to send out a strong message to those survivors that they may have been failed in the past but we will leave no stone unturned to ensure that they get justice."

In Northern Ireland, the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry began public hearings in January but chairman Sir Anthony Hart said he did not have the power to compel MI5 or military intelligence officers to give evidence or release classified files relating to Kincora.

Amnesty International has led calls for the Official Secrets Act to be suspended to allow former intelligence officers to give evidence about alleged cover ups during the child abuse inquiry.

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