By Gary Fennelly and PA
Theresa Villiers says the best forum to examine claims of political involvement in Kincora is a Stormont-established inquiry
East Belfast DUP MLA Robin Newton said it is ‘unforgivable’ that the Secretary of State Theresa Villiers has maintained her position that Kincora should not be included within the Goddard child abuse inquiry.
On Thursday Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers said the disclosure of secret state files on abuse allegations at the notorious Belfast boys home will not prompt a Government re-think on its exclusion from a UK abuse inquiry.
East Belfast’s DUP MLA Robin Newton
Theresa Villiers said the right place for the new files to go was the Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA).
Mr Newton, a member of the Policing Board, said: “The Secretary of State’s stance is unforgivable. Theresa Villiers is hiding behind the excellent work being done by Sir Anthony Hart within his Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry knowing that its powers are limited.
“Given the suspected strong security links about Kincora’s evil past it’s her duty to diligently pursue the Westminster paper trail. Whist the Government has said it will give the ‘fullest possible’ cooperation with the HIA, Sir Anthony Hart has previously said (18-7-14) that the HIA ‘does not have sufficient powers’ in its present form to investigate issues relating to the Army or MI5.
“The suspicions around political and security figures along with both local and London based people needs to be fully explored. Everything about this house of shame needs to be brought out in open including those who turned a blind eye.”
Mr Newton added that the failure of Ms Villiers to strongly argue the case for the Kincora victims’ inclusion within the Goddard abuse inquiry is ‘failing the victims and only keeps the lid on the secrets of Kincora’.
“I can’t imagine how those who endured the vile cruelty, both physical and mental, feel when they see channels to uncover the truth being closed off.”
Kincora Boys Home in Belfast
Ms Villiers said the best forum to examine claims of political involvement in a paedophile ring that operated from Kincora was an on-going Stormont-established inquiry, chaired by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart, not the nationwide probe being chaired by New Zealand judge Lowell Goddard.
Campaigners for Kincora’s inclusion in the UK-wide inquiry have highlighted that the Northern Ireland-specific probe does not have the powers to compel security services witnesses to give evidence or produce documents.
“Like everyone else we want to ensure that the truth is discovered, that these events are fully investigated and we believe the Hart inquiry is the best forum to do that.”
Paedophiles abused boys from the Kincora home in east Belfast during the 1970s.
Moreover, it has been claimed that the UK security services knew about the crimes but did nothing to stop them, instead using the knowledge to blackmail and extract intelligence from influential men who were committing abuse.
Amnesty International is among campaigners making fresh calls for Kincora’s inclusion in Justice Goddard’s inquiry following the discovery of a series of confidential government files.
The Home Office said the papers were uncovered during a fresh search of the archives, carried out after a file emerged that should have been submitted to a Government-established inquiry examining whether evidence linking prominent figures to child abuse was deliberately destroyed.
The contents of the freshly-located files have not been made public but the Cabinet Office has provided brief descriptions.
The papers included a file about former Northern Ireland minister and Conservative MP Sir William Van Straubenzee which also “contained references to the Kincora boys home”.
Another group of papers contain allegations made by former military intelligence officer Colin Wallace about Kincora. It is known that Mr Wallace claimed the intelligence services blocked police investigations in the 1970s into alleged abuse at the home.
The Cabinet Office said that group of papers also references Mr Van Straubenzee, as well as former cabinet minister Leon Brittan; Peter Morrison, an aide to Margaret Thatcher; and ex-diplomat and former deputy director of MI6, Sir Peter Hayman.
A former resident of Kincora, Gary Hoy, is currently making a legal challenge against the Government’s refusal to include the facility in the Justice Goddard probe.
Ms Villiers said all relevant documentation was being made available to the Hart inquiry.
“The Government is determined to do all it can to co-operate with the Hart inquiry on these matters and provide whatever we can in terms of disclosure,” she said.
“That’s what is happening and we are determined to make sure we do all we can to co-operate with a thorough investigation into these matters by the Hart inquiry.”
Amnesty’s Northern Ireland director Patrick Corrigan questioned the Government’s stance.
“Nothing less than a full public inquiry – with all the powers of compulsion which that brings – can finally reveal what happened at Kincora,” he said.
“It is not too late for the Government to reconsider its position.”
A number of Kincora residents expressed concern at the discovery of the documents.
Kevin Winters, a solicitor representing the men, said it appeared that Kincora was at “the centre of a sex ring of institutional abuse” used by members of the British establishment and senior figures within the loyalist community in Northern Ireland.
“Our clients have no faith in the HIA (Stormont’s Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry) in being able to effectively investigate these matters to the necessary human rights standards,” he said.
“Now the Cabinet Office in London has seen fit to pass files relating to Kincora to the HIA.
“Previously this had not been possible because they ‘were discovered because they had not been properly catalogued’ – whatever that means.”
He added: “It is clear that these documents support the demands of our clients for an independent statutory inquiry into Kincora – with full victim participation and compliant with human rights standards required of such investigations when human violations of the most appalling kind are the subject of judicial scrutiny.
“As part of this process complete disclosure of relevant material held by the British Government must be made available to the representatives of the victims so that their rights to truth, justice and accountability can be secured to partially assuage the stains of the crimes against them.”
From the archives