Northern Ireland’s first minister calls MI5 abuse rumours ‘national scandal’

Henry McDonald — The Guardian August 1, 2014

Northern Ireland’s irst minister Peter Robinson said on Friday night that allegations of a cover-up of sexual abuse at a Belfast boys’ home because the perpetrators were state agents is a national scandal.

Robinson revealed that he has written to David Cameron asking the prime minister to open all security files relating to the Kincora boys’ home scandal in east Belfast.

Two former army intelligence officers have claimed their reports of abuse taking place at the home, which was controlled by a prominent Orangeman and state agent, were ignored by the authorities.

Victims and Amnesty International have demanded that the recently established public inquiry into alleged paedophile rings and establishment cover-ups should extend to the Kincora scandal.

The first minister said he hoped to meet the prime minister and press him for a full investigation into the abuse at the boys’ home.

“I hope to see him over the weekend at some events. Again, I will prompt him on the issue because I think it is one that is important, that the prime minister of our country gives a very clear steer that something has to be done,” Robinson said.

The Democratic Unionist Party leader added: “I think there has to be complete freedom on the part of those who want to give evidence to be able to do so.

“I don’t think anybody is asking them to divulge national secrets, but this is a national scandal that needs to be dealt with and I trust that whatever steps [need to be] taken to ensure that the truth comes out are taken.”

On the claims of a cover-up in the Kincora case made by ex-intelligence officers, Robinson said: “If there is nothing to hide, why would anybody fear opening the books?

“Let’s see exactly what has happened, whether the person at the heart of the Kincora scandal was indeed on the payroll of MI5, whether their handlers were aware of what was going on; why they chose, if that is the case, not to do anything about it and leave vulnerable boys in that situation.

“In some cases it goes beyond rumours,” he said.

“Again, you get down to what might be regarded as circumstantial evidence, but people did take their lives after being questioned by police on these issues.”

One of the main abusers of boys at the home – William McGrath, dubbed “The Beast of Kincora” – was an alleged state agent who had been blackmailed into informing on other extreme Ulster loyalists during the early 1970s.

Amnesty International was first to demand, through the Guardian, that the Westminster-based inquiry into alleged links between paedophile rings and establishment figures in Britain should be extended to incorporate Kincora.

Patrick Corrigan, Amnesty’s Northern Ireland director, said there were “deeply disturbing” claims that MI5 turned a blind eye to abuse in the boys’ home and had effectively blocked a police investigation into paedophiles running Kincora.

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