An inquiry into allegations of child abuse at a boys’ home in Belfast has restarted amid claims that MI5 agents knew about the alleged abuses but chose to use the information to blackmail paedophile public figures.
The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry will hear evidence from former residents of the notorious Kincora children’s home where it is claimed a high-ranking paedophile ring preyed on the vulnerable boys who lived there during the 1970s.
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There have been claims that the UK security services knew about the abuse but did nothing to stop it, but instead used the information to blackmail and extract intelligence from the influential men, including senior politicians, who were the alleged perpetrators.
In August 2014 former intelligence officer Captain Brian Gemmell claimed that his attempts to investigate at the time were cut short by his superiors.
He told the Independent that before he was told to leave the Kincora case alone in the mid-1970s “on the grounds that the service didn’t involve itself with homosexual matters, I had a meeting at a hotel on Buckingham Palace Road.”
He said three members of MI5 had spoken to him about “a known Protestant terrorist, John McKeague of the Red Hand Commandos, being homosexual, and they asked me if I thought he could be blackmailed over his homosexuality, because they had film of him.”
The inquiry is being led by former High Court judge Sir Anthony Hart.
In 1981 three men were jailed for abuse at Kincora. Among them was Kincora “house father” William McGrath, who has been described as a Protestant fanatic and an MI5 informant.
The inquiry is expected to report in early 2017.