Belfast Telegraph

Kincora abuse probe disarray as second witness Colin Wallace rules out testifying

By Rebecca Black

The inquiry into historical sex abuse at the former Kincora boys' home in east Belfast has been dealt a second blow in as many days after another key witness yesterday vowed he would not testify at the probe.

Former Army captain Colin Wallace spoke out after another witness, Roy Garland, said he would not speak at the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry (HIA) in Banbridge.

Both men feel it does not have enough power to get answers and were disappointed by a High Court ruling that barred a judicial review of Secretary of State Theresa Villiers' decision not to refer Kincora to the more powerful London-based Goddard Inquiry.

Mr Wallace previously told this newspaper that with witnesses ageing every day, time was quickly running out to get to the truth of what really happened at Kincora.

"Is the sexual abuse of children in London really more significant than the sexual abuse of children in Northern Ireland?" he asked.

An unknown number of children were abused at the east Belfast boys' home, which operated from 1958 until 1980.

In 1981, three senior care staff were jailed for abusing 11 boys, but allegations of a wider ring with links to the political establishment have persisted ever since. Victims would like to see the Kincora allegations examined by the London-based Goddard Inquiry which has the power to compel witnesses to attend, unlike the HIA.

Mr Wallace, who was sacked from the Army after attempting to expose the scandal in 1974, said that other witnesses possibly in a position to shed light on events at the notorious home were considering their positions.

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"Sadly, in the current circumstances, I feel that no useful purpose would be served by my participation in the HIA," he added.

"However, I am sure that other members of the security forces, including the intelligence services, who have knowledge of child abuse in Northern Ireland during the relevant period, will make up their own minds about whether or not they should participate in the inquiry."

Mr Wallace said the High Court judgment to refuse a victim the opportunity to take a judicial review against the Government's decision had been a "bitter blow to a great many people".

"The harsh reality is that the Government has seen fit to provide the HIA with significantly less powers than the Goddard Inquiry, yet it has provided no cogent reason for why this difference is necessary," he added.

"That appears to me to be manifestly unfair. This discrepancy is all the more significant bearing in mind the total failure of previous inquiries to uncover the full facts.

"I have no doubt whatsoever that the members of the HIA are totally committed to establishing the truth about what occurred in Kincora. But I do not believe that this can be achieved without the same legal powers as the Goddard Inquiry. Commitment by itself does not provide answers."

Mr Wallace contrasted the Government's approach to the Saville Tribunal, which examined the events of Bloody Sunday in Derry and at which he gave evidence, to its approach to Kincora, describing the attitudes as wholly different.

"I fully accept that most of the really sensitive intelligence information about Kincora and related matters will have been destroyed years ago," the former soldier added. "But that should not preclude the HIA from having the powers to compel disclosure or compel the attendance of witnesses.

"As I know from bitter personal experience, expecting Whitehall simply to volunteer sensitive information is totally pointless.

"Also, having been involved in the Saville Inquiry into Bloody Sunday I am very conscious that the Government's approach to that inquiry was strikingly different. Even the former Prime Minister, Edward Heath, was required to attend, give evidence and be cross-examined."

Belfast Telegraph


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