Victim disappointed by Kincora decision
A man who was abused at the notorious Kincora Boys’ Home said he believes the full truth of what happened there will not be uncovered because of the decision not to include it in a UK government inquiry.
Instead, the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry chaired by Sir Anthony Hart will be responsible for looking into sexual abuse claims at the home.
In 1981, three senior care staff – William McGrath, Joseph Mains and Raymond Semple – were jailed for abusing 11 boys at Kincora in the 1970s, but it has also been claimed that high profile members of society were connected to the scandal.
It has been alleged that UK security services knew about the crimes but did nothing to stop them.
Gary Hoy, who was abused during his seven years at the home, believes the truth will not come out as a result of the decision.
“It never left me. I’m 53 now and every day I wake up with it,” he said.
“Sometimes I even hate going to sleep because I know I’m going to wake up the next morning with bad thoughts still in my head. Every time I pass [Kincora] on the bus it’s very hard to see it still standing there.
“I wasn’t shocked because to me there are too many people involved- hierarchy people. They’re just too scared of who was involved.”
Commenting as the Home Secretary Theresa May announced the terms of reference for the UK inquiry, the NI Secretary of State has promised the fullest cooperation by the British government, including the MI5 and Ministry of Defence, in assisting Sir Anthony Hart’s inquiry in pursuing the allegations.
She said that the HIA inquiry has already received a number of allegations concerning Kincora and has powers to compel witnesses for statements in relation to matters devolved to the Northern Ireland Assembly, while Fiona Woolf’s panel has no such powers.
Ms Villiers said: “All right thinking people will find the offences committed at Kincora utterly abhorrent, and if there was any tolerance of such abuse by people in positions of authority that must also be utterly condemned.”
I believe that Sir Anthony’s inquiry is the best placed body to do just that and it is already planning to look at allegations in respect of Kincora.Secretary of State Theresa Villiers
She added: “All government departments and agencies who receive a request for information or documents from the Inquiry will co-operate to the utmost of their ability in determining what material they hold that might be relevant”.
Welcoming Ms Villiers’ assurances of cooperation, Sir Anthony Hart, said: “As we have already announced, and as the Secretary of State has said, the HIA Inquiry is investigating Kincora, and so her announcement does not extend the Terms of Reference of our Inquiry.
“On the contrary, it now provides our Inquiry with the means to investigate the activities of non-devolved Government Departments and agencies.
“We are satisfied that the assurance of full co-operation by all Government Departments and agencies, and the satisfactory resolution by HM Government of the other issues the Inquiry has raised with it, will provide our HIA Inquiry with the ability and financial resources to carry out an effective and thorough investigation into all the Kincora allegations.”
Should it become apparent during our work that it is necessary to have powers under the Inquiries Act 2005 then we will ask OFMDFM and HM Government to confer such powers on our Inquiry.Sir Anthony Hart
The Historical Abuse Inquiry is not expected to address Kincora until the end of next year at the earliest.
First Minister Peter Robinson MLA has expressed disappointment in response to the Secretary of State’s announcement.
He explained that he insisted during a meeting with Home Secretary and the Secretary of State, he said in the case Kincora was not included, then Sir Anthony Hart needed to be content that he would have the same access and cooperation as the UK-wide panel.
He said: “I will now be seeking clarification from the Chairman of the HIA Inquiry to ensure he is fully satisfied, given Her Majesty’s Government’s commitment that he now has the range of powers and cooperation he requires to carry out a robust and thorough investigation of all the issues in relation to Kincora Boys’ Home.”
SDLP justice spokesperson Alban Maginness has said the exclusion of Kincora from the UK probe will not give hope to those trying to find the truth.
“Unless the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry’s powers are enhanced to summon witnesses and disclose documents from outside Northern Ireland, in particular from the intelligence services, then what she is suggesting is a recipe for doing nothing,” he said.
Ulster Unionist leader, Mike Nesbitt has said the uncertainty on whether Sir Anthony would be able to force representatives of the security forces to appear before the inquiry is a “critical weakness”.
“I acknowledge the Secretary of State is working with colleagues in Government to address that point, but until it is resolved satisfactorily, these proposals have a potentially fatal weakness. That would be a betrayal of the victims,” the Strangford MLA said.
Alliance East Belfast MP Naomi Long added that victims and survivors of Kincora had been let down by the decision.
“Kincora is under the spotlight not just for allegations of abuse but also claims that security services participated in blackmail and cover-ups around it. While the Secretary of State is correct in saying the welfare of children is a devolved matter to Northern Ireland, the security services are not,” she said.
“The Home Office inquiry has dragged its feet for months now in not responding to my calls for Kincora to be included in it and this is just the latest disappointment.
“If Kincora is not to be included in the Home Office inquiry, I would call for a separate, independent inquiry with statutory powers to be established and Kincora to be included in it. That now appears to be the only way the victims and survivors of the home will gain the justice they deserve.”
Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy also called for independent inquiry to look into the role of MI5 and the British Intelligence services in the case of Kincora.
“While I have full confidence in Judge Hart’s handling of the inquiry the reality is that the HIAI does not have the powers to compel members of the British intelligence services to give evidence,” he commented.
“It remains our view that only an independent investigation with the full powers to compel witnesses to give evidence will bring justice to the victims of abuse in Kincora.”