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Security service ‘blocked Kincora inquiry’

Richard Norton-Taylor, Guardian, 2 June 1990, page 2

A high level police inquiry into allegations of homosexual abuse at the Kincora boys' home in east Belfast was blocked by MI5, the security service, according to evidence disclosed last night.

BBC2's Public Eye programme revealed that officers of the Royal Ulster Constabulary were repeatedly refused permission to interview a senior MI5 official about the affair. The MI5 official was told about the abuses by an officer in military intelligence who ran a source linked to Tara, an extreme Protestant group whose leader, William McGrath, a former Kincora house father, was jailed for sexual offences in 1981.

The disclosures prompted renewed calls last night for a full inquiry into allegations - notably made by Collin Wallace, a former army information officer in Norther Ireland - that the security services were involved in a cover-up and that boys were used as pawns for blackmail purposes.

Stephen McGonagle, a former Ombudsman for Northern Ireland who was asked to chair the first inquiry into Kincora said last night: "I believe another inquiry is necessary... There must be no constraints on the terms of reference."

The military intelligence offer, named James in the programme, described how he was summoned to see the MI5 official after he wrote a report about the allegations of abuses to the security services in Northern Ireland in 1975.

"I get blown out of his office. He was rude to me and told me to break the contact [with Tara] and lay off any matters sexual," he said.

Seven years later, in 1982, an RUC team led by Superintendent George Casky - attached to an inquiry into Kincora set up by the Government under Sir George Terry, then Chief Constable of Sussex - were refused permission to see the MI5 officer despite repeated requests and several meetings with the Ministry of Defence.

It was eventually agreed that the RUC should write down a series of questions about why no action was taken to investigate the allegations of the military intelligence officer, why the officer was told to drop Kincora, whether MI5 knew what was going on at the boys' home, and if it did know why MI5 was prepared to let the abuses continue. The team, who had the backing of the then RUC Chief Constable, Sir John Hermon, got no answer.

"We are not talking here about great national secrets. We are talking about covering up matters concerning a moral issue of the gravest importance - the abuse of young men," the military intelligence officer said last night.

Officials knew about it and for some reason did nothing, he said." That's something that not only shocks and horrifies me, that's something that will shock and horrify every part of society."

Two boys who were abused at Kincora also appeared on the programme.

The intelligence officer, who was first told about the abuses in 1975 by Roy Garland, formerly second in command of Tara, also described how two MI5 officials suggested to him that John McKeague, a loyalist extremist who was killed by the Irish National Liberation Army in 1982, should be recruited as an informer. He said MI5 told him that McKeague's homosexuality could be used as a lever and that MI5 had a compromising film on him.

Sir George did not publish his report, but said he had concluded in 1983 that "there is no substance to the allegations that army intelligence had knowledge of homosexual abuse at Kincora".

In February this year, Peter Brooke, the Northern Ireland Secretary, told Kevin McNamara, Labour's Northern Ireland spokesman, that the Kincora affair had been investigated "as fully and thoroughly as lies within the power of the Government to investigate it, and that no purpose would now be served by a further inquiry". Last night Merlyn Rees, the former Labour Northern Ireland Secretary, called for a new inquiry. "The story of Kincora is a nasty one that we all ought to be ashamed of," he said.

A Yorkshire Television drama documentary on shootings in Northern Ireland in 1982 contains inaccuracies, distortions and misrepresentations, and is unjustifiably damaging to the force, the RUC said yesterday.

The title of the programme, Shoot to Kill, was offensive to the RUC.

The two-part programme, to be broadcast on Sunday and Monday, investigates the RUC killings of six unarmed men in County Armagh.

An RUC statement said there never had been a shoot-to-kill policy and John Stalker, the former Greater Manchester deputy chief constable who led an inquiry into shoot-to-kill allegations, had not found any evidence of such a policy.

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