Kincora abuse case excluded from Woolf’s England and Wales Inquiry…

I was never the greatest fan of The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, though the proceedings at Banbridge do seem to have given some victims an opportunity to have their stories told in the public forum. Much judgement will have to be reserved for the effects of its final report.

One of its limitations is that it can only compel witnesses to appear who are acting under devolved as opposed to reserved powers. Whilst comprises almost everyone anyone working or who has worked within Northern Ireland social services, it also excludes those working in the British security forces.


Secretary of State Theresa Villiers yesterday revealed the east Belfast home would not be examined in the Government’s investigation of historical child abuse.

Ms Villiers said she believed the Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry was “best placed” to investigate the scandal, and she vowed it would have the co-operation of the Government, MI5 and Ministry of Defence.

But critics of the decision said the Stormont-commissioned probe only had the power to compel witnesses and papers related to devolved matters.

That means the panel chaired by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart cannot force representatives of the security services to appear before a hearing.

The Woolf Inquiry scope comprises:

  • Government departments, Parliament and Ministers;
  • Police, prosecuting authorities, schools including private and state-funded boarding and day schools, Local Authorities including care homes and children’s services, health services, prisons/secure estates;
  • Churches and other religious denominations and organisations;
  • Political Parties;
  • The Armed Services.

By contrast the HIA’s terms of reference are structured in a far more narrow way. Woolf will only look at England and Wales, although only if she survives a challenge of her own chairmanship.

Kincora remains sidelined, despite long and widely held suspicions that as Army whistleblower Colin Wallace notes in Spinwatch today:

The harsh reality that must be faced is that Government agencies and individuals were aware of what was going on inside Kincora during the early 1970s and not only allowed it to continue, but also helped to cover it up.

The Cahill story demonstrates how closely linked politics and abuse of young women and men became during the Troubles. The struggle is how to maintain an open mind and to keep asking questions of a broad legacy which blighted young lives over nearly two generations of abnormal living.



  • Morpheus

    Read this interesting piece earlier Mick

    “As an information officer at the Army’s Headquarters Northern Ireland in the mid-1970s, Colin Wallace sought to blow the whistle on abuse at the Kincora Boys Home in Belfast. Here, he responds to the announcement that the Woolf Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse will not look at Kincora.”

  • chrisjones2

    Inquiry parked. A flurry of wings from a dying duck. No real progress.

    If you think they might be serious ask yourself this. Will the NIO ever let a local NI Enquiry interrogate MI5 and Dowing Street?

  • streetlegal

    The decision was taken by David Cameron after a secret meeting (undocumented) with the head of British Intelligence, to carry forward the convention followed by previous British governments that there should be no further investigation of Kincora, as the scandal would be hugely damaging to the English Establishment. – with both statutory agencies and individuals of the highest social standing implicated.

  • Ned in a field

    At the very least, this decision is a tragedy. At worst, it is a National scandal. So what’s new…

  • chrisjones2

    Wallace has credibility. Read Holroyd’s book and make up your own mind. Le Carree couldn’t have made some of it up

  • mickfealty

    Yes. Morph, that’s one linked and quoted at the end.

  • Michael-Henry Mcivor

    While other abuse allegations are headline news-( as all of them should ) – we see the Brit Intel refusing to tell its abuse history-( and those groups still exist and still get government funding even though the sex sick tricks are well documented -as some Kincora victims have already made public- )-it’s a pity that the great and good don’t ask to meet the Kincora victims as well for a dig at the Brits in the media- prove I hear ones cry- aye- prove would be nice all the time-

    Another good article by yourself Mick-

  • Morpheus

    hahaha didn’t even see it Mick, apologies

  • Tacapall

    Here’s all you need to know about why there’s no inclusion and I doubt very much if Fiona Woolf will be chairing any inquiry into the cover up of child abuse after her relationship was made public with (Top Tory, Leon Brittan) the former home Secretary alleged to have covered up allegations of a cabal of child rapists operating out of Westminster.

  • $33309652

    If anything comes out of all these stories maybe it might move things forward in favour of the victims.
    The police handing out cautions to rapists ( And to accept a caution you must admit the offence )
    is just plain wrong.
    Even, if you get done for speeding you are sent to a speed awareness course.
    What use does a caution provide?
    It’s the WRONG tariff for rape IMHO.
    Second, will any party agree to put up income tax by even a penny in order to resource the Police? And will anybody vote for them if they do?
    And the police force which provided over the Rotheram scandal is now facing accusations from the City of Sheffield.
    The people of Sheffield provided concerns about sex abuse and they were told that the police had given priority to “Car theft” and “burgularly”

  • Granni Trixie

    This decision, though appalling, is consistent with how the recurring sore of Kincora has been dealt with over the years. I remember the shock I felt years ago reading Colin Wallace’s account.
    Unlike Mick however I am a fan of the Judge Hart led Inquiry. The self support group (still called SAVIA?) with the help of Amnesty and the learning of activists from the South campaigned prior to its establishment to influence civil servants doing the preliminary work (criteria,time scale,resources, set up etc) to foreshadow problems and learn from past mistakes.
    It is not a perfect model we always knew that l but miles better than it might have been without engaging with stakeholders. Certainly the Hart Enquiry does not bear comparison with the way Kincora was dealt with. Strikes me that Judge Hart is no pushover so that even if he has no say in having to include Kincora in his Enquiry he will not bend to the outcome the Establishment want. I suspect when he cannot access information which undermines getting to the bottom of things he will sate that. I also trust him not to let Kincora muck overshadow the work of the Enquiry.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Coming to this thread late I see that the consensus is that the soft shoe shuffle Villiars decision implies is generally seen as utterly unacceptable. But what can we do about it? As ever, nothing but complain.

    Executive decisions have silenced any serious enquiry into Kincorra all along. And GAs own stonewalling regarding his other series of separate coverups can duck behind this with the usual obscurist ploy of whataboutery. No one, anywhere, can employ high ground, so all of us must suffer.

  • Granni Trixie

    By one of those everyday coincidences, whilst having a clearout I came across an article relevant to present discussions (Harry McGee, Irish Times,20/04/2013:”Victims of a Hero and Paedophile”). The article reports on the case of a formerly respected Republican and Irish teacher, Domhnall O Lubhlai, now dead. One aspect the article explored was the difficulty in bringing the man to Court despite multiple abuses being reported to the Guarda over a long period and asks why journalists encountered so much difficulty in accessing official records to expose the cases. It argued for an Enquiry and claims that according to conspiracy theories he had been a State informer about IRA activities and therefore protected.
    Well, so much for child protection. And if true, this case shows that the pattern concerning Kincora and Republicans who abuse are echoed in the ROI.