Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry, NI · In the News · Uncategorized

HISTORICAL INSTITUTIONAL ABUSE INQUIRY

HISTORICAL INSTITUTIONAL ABUSE INQUIRY (HIA)

By SIR ANTHONY HART

NORTHERN IRELAND, 1922-1995

Released: Friday 20th January 2017

Today Sir Anthony Hart released the findings of his inquiry in to institutional abuse within Ireland. This was an important and long-awaited date for survivors – especially those from Kincora – who have led a very brave, long and fruitless campaign to get to the truth about the involvement of the UK security services, VIPs and the elite’s involvement.  Sadly, today was always destined to be a whitewash, in my opinion:

  • Firstly, the date chosen to release the findings coincided with the US presidential inauguration, which just happened to be probably THE MOST controversial one ever – that of Donald Trump.  Hence the media glare would firmly be on America and not in Belfast.
  • Secondly, the firm rejection to allow Kincora to be included within the iiCSA Inquiry.  Despite coming under UK jurisdiction, Lowell Goddard firmly dismissed it’s inclusion.
  • Thirdly, the involvement of the security services and army meant that there would be closed doors to many files which would have shed light on allegations, including those involving people such as Sir Maurice Oldfield and Mountbatten.

I will publish here the brief points outlined in the press conference and tweeted by a journalist from Ireland – Allison Morris (@AllisonMorris1 on Twitter) – as well as BBC tweets to give an oversight of the findings, and then include a link to the report itself.  It’s thousands of pages long and so I cannot publish it on here!  I am also not going to go in to Kincora – I will save that for a separate post in due course.

  1. Anthony Hart has started delivering findings of the Historical Institutional Abuse inquiry, into church and state child abuse.
  2. The HIA inquiry covered 73 years of state and church child abuse, Sir Anthony Hart said there were not the same failings in every home.
  3. Sir Anthony Hart investigated 11 Catholic Church run homes, 6 training schools and 5 state run homes.
  4. 493 people engaged with the inquiry with allegations against 65 institutions.
  5. Majority of complainants centered around four homes run by the Sisters of Nazareth, physical, mental and sexual abuse reported by 189 witnesses.
  6. Sir Anthony Hart also found that disinfectant was used in baths. He said there was a significant number of cases of sexual abuse involving both priests and lay staff. Many of these incidents were known to members of the clergy who did nothing to stop them.
  7. Most applicants to the HIA were seen in Belfast, but others were seen in Londonderry, in the Republic of Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and some others in Australia.
  8. Sir Anthony Hart has been outlining the social and economic background to institutional care in Northern Ireland. He said for “many years the financial circumstances and living conditions were very poor”.  “The extreme violence and civil disorder in the 1970s and 1980s did not leave those responsible for child care. These factors are largely forgotten today although there were many failures. Those failings must be examined against the backdrop of the political, social and economic circumstances at the time,” he added.
  9. At Lisnevin training school there were systemic failures, including a failure to refer allegations of assault by staff on a boy to the RUC.
  10. Violence inflicted upon boys at Rubane House in Kircubbin, sexual abuse also was covered up, order moved sex offender to another school.
  11. St Patrick’s training school run by the De La Salle Order, 19 witnesses and 11 statements, gave evidence of violence and sexual abuse by some of the brothers working there.  It found that the institution used informal corporal punishment and that older boys were permitted to punish others when supervising them in the dormitory. There were also a number occasions of degradation by stripping boys naked to stand in full view of others.
  12. Some staff at Rathgael secure home sexually abused some female residents in their care.  The inquiry found that there was unregulated physical punishment and frequent unrecorded informal corporal punishment. It also found that there was a lack of training in the control and restraint of children who lived there.
  13. No evidence of systematic abuse at Hydebank young offenders centre.
  14. Three girls recalled positive experiences of Middleton training school while some recalled physical abuse.
  15. Lissue House was the only health care facility involved in the inquiry, 10 applicants gave evidence, systemic failings and abuse found.
  16. Restraints used on children and some injected with sedatives, there was sexual abuse and some staff cruel to children in Lissue care.
  17. Before findings on Kincora Sir Anthony Hart says not being able to compel witnesses from NIO and intelligence services meant one door was closed.
  18. However said assurances given by SoS that all agencies would cooperate were honoured in relation to Kincora, including MOD documents.
  19. The HIA inquiry was able to examine, in full, every file and document concerning Kincora Boys’ Home, Sir Anthony Hart says.  He added that the inquiry had received the full co-operation of the PSNI but that was in “marked contrast to the unwillingness of some individuals.
  20. They also examined RUC special branch files in relation to Kincora.
  21. 39 boys were abused whilst at Kincora.  Not all the surviving former residents of the Kincora Boys’ Home could be traced but the great majority of those who were traced were not sexually abused during their time there.  Kincora opened in 1958 and closed in 1980. 245 boys stayed there during that period, 104 were traced and interviewed and of those, 38 were abused at some point. The great majority were unaware at the time of what was going on in the home.
  22. Mentions failure of Richard Kerr to travel from America to give evidence and of Roy Garland’s offer to be interviewed after inquiry closed.
  23. Says there were half truths masquerading as facts in relation to Kincora and what state agencies did or did not do.
  24. Sir Anthony says some may find Kincora findings unpalatable because we did not uphold allegations made over the years.
  25. Consistent pattern of concealment by Mains and William McGrath in Kincora, both approached vulnerable or easily threatened boys.
  26. Sir Anthony Hart said: “We are satisfied that McGrath was never an agent of the state.”  McGrath was a “minor player on a wider political stage who managed to create a spurious air of importance through Tara (a one-time Ulster loyalist movement). It was never more than an organisation of occasional interest to the security forces.” Three senior staff at Kincora Boys’ – McGrath, Raymond Semple and Joseph Mains – were jailed in 1981 for abusing 11 boys.
  27. Two volumes of HIA report dedicated to Kincora alone.
  28. Vulnerable Kincora residents exploited and targeted, dependent on staff and ill prepared for independent living, no proper inspections.
  29. Allegations about McGrath made to RUC in 1974 by Roy Garland were not properly investigated and those abused after may have been spared.
  30. MI5 sent letters in 1973 by RUC linking McGrath to the group Tara.
  31. Efforts by Roy Garland to alert the RUC to danger McGrath posed to boys in his care ‘commendable’ but ignored.
  32. Sir A Hart says William McGrath was a ‘sexual pervert’ with political views of a bizarre type, who created an air of importance around him.
  33. No evidence of a sex ring and boys being taken elsewhere from Kincora, no evidence that it was used as a ‘brothel’.  The HIA inquiry has “not found any credible evidence to show that there is any basis for the allegations or anything to show that the security agencies were complicit in any sort of sexual abuse” at Kincora Boys’ Home.
  34. Sir Anthony Hart now addressing former army officer Colin Wallace allegations in relation to Kincora, saying not considered him truthful!
  35. Report will go online shortly two volumes on Kincora.
  36. When the HIA Inquiry was sitting, it heard evidence from adults who were sent from NI to Australia as child migrants.  Sir Anthony Hart said: “It was wrong to send children who were so young to Australia and [Manor House Home] failed to give truthful information to the parents of children who were sent (there) and who inquired where their child was.”  “All the institutions who sent children to Australia failed to ensure that those who travelled  with the children were suitable to care for them,” he added.
  37. The HIA inquiry found that the Norbertine Order failed to take steps to expel Fr Brendan Smyth, the Northern Ireland-born cleric who was eventually convicted of dozens of offences against children over a 40-year period, from the priesthood and did not raise allegations of abuse to social services or the police.

Outcome:

  1. The HIA report has recommended that compensation should be paid to victims of abuse in the form of a lump sum payment.
  2. The HIA panel is recommending that it would be “just and humane” that the spouse or children of deceased victims of institutional abuse be able to claim 75% of the compensation that would have been awarded to their relatives if they were still alive.  At least 12 people have died since making their application to the inquiry.
  3. The HIA inquiry panel is recommending that there should be a minimum amount of compensation available to victims of institutional abuse here. It suggests the upper limit should be capped somewhere between £60,000 and £80,000.
  4. The panel has also recommended that applications for compensation must be made within 5 years of the establishment of a HIA redress board. They are also recommending that any voluntary institution found to have made systemic failings should be asked to assist with payments.
  5. The HIA inquiry panel has called for a Commissioner for Survivors of Institutional Abuse. The post would help people to access records to enable them to apply for compensation to the HIA redress board.
  6. The HIA also suggests a memorial to survivors of abuse should be erected at Stormont.

Responses:

Catholic Archbishop of Ireland, Eamon Martin: Eamon Martin, says the publication of the report into Historical Institutional Abuse here “reminds us that much work remains to be undertaken in this regard.”  The Archbishop is due to meet Pope Francis today and is expected to make reference to the HIA findings in his speech.

NSPCC NI: Abuse at Kincora due to “multitude of failures” by police and state bodies. Abuse could have been ended earlier

Diocese of Down and Connor: acknowledges “with a profound sense of shame” the report prepared by the HIA and apologised “wholeheartedly, unconditionally and unreservedly to all those who have suffered abuse and carried the legacy of such appalling experiences from childhood as a result of any failing on the part of a representative of this diocese.

Sisters of Nazareth: In a statement it said: “We again apologise to anyone who has suffered abuse whether psychological, physical, sexual or neglect on any occasion when the sisters’ standard of care fell below what was expected of them.  It was always the desire of the order to provide a safe place for children and when we failed on any occasion, we want to express our deepest regret.  We will now fully reflect on the contents of the report and make a considered response to the new Executive on the implementation of the recommendations,”.

De La Salle Brothers:  Issued a statement in which is said: “First and foremost, we the Brothers wish to reiterate publicly what we said to the Inquiry on 15th January 2014: We accept and deeply regret that boys in our care were abused.  We offer our sincere and unreserved apology to all those whom we failed to protect.  That some Brothers abused boys in their care was in total contradiction of their vocations as De la Salle Brothers and of their mission as established by our founder, namely to look after the welfare and educational needs of deprived, vulnerable and abandoned children.

Margaret McGuckin: (whose brother was one of the victims of sexual abuse and has led a campaign for the truth), said today is what victims have “waited a lifetime for“. She added: “Today we are believed. As young children who tried to complain about our abuse and no one would listen.  In particular the religious orders and these holy devout Christian people disbelieved us and even bullied us more for daring to complain. Today we are vindicated.”.

Colin Wallace: ciaranmacairt.com

Although I initially offered to give evidence to the Inquiry, I later decided not to, mainly on the grounds that the Government repeatedly refused to give it the same legal powers as the corresponding Inquiry in London.

I believe that both the perception and the reality of the Government’s decision is one ofunfairness to the victims.

Despite my decision, I did, however, provide the Inquiry with 265 pages of comment and supportingdocuments, drawing attention to false or misleading information contained in the transcripts of thepublic hearings. My reason for doing so was to enable the Inquiry to investigate and corroborate theaccuracy of my past comments about Kincora and related matters, and to provide the Inquiry with theopportunity to correct the relevant errors in the its published transcripts.

None of the information I provided to the Inquiry is new.

Although some of it has not previously been in the public domain, it has been in the possession of the Ministry of Defence and other Government agencies for many years and should have been made available by those authorities to the Inquiry.

It should, therefore, also have been made available by the authorities to previous Inquiries and the Government needs to explain why that did not happen. Even more worrying, is the acknowledged fact that key Army Intelligence files relating to Tara and William McGrath – including the one compiled by Intelligence officer, Captain Brian Gemmell – appear to have gone missing after they were handed over by the Army to MI5 in 1989, prior to Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s admission to Parliament (30 January 1990) that Ministers had“inadvertently misled” Parliament about my case.

Clockwork Orange

There also appears to be no record whatsoever of what became of all the ‘Clockwork Orange’ project files which I handed over to my superiors when Ileft Army Headquarters in Lisburn in February 1975. Some of those files related to William McGrath.

To make matters worse, it is now clear from the Inquiry’s transcripts that a senior MI5 officer, Ian Cameron, falsely accused me of ‘leaking’, without authority, information to the press about William McGrath.

The MI5 claim is bizarre.

As my Army superior at the time has confirmed in the press, I was officially instructed by my superiors in Psychological Operations, at the behest of Major General Peter Leng, to brief the press about McGrath as early as 1973, in a bid to attract media attention to his activities.

It is also significant that the MI5 officer who accused me of ‘leaking’ information about McGrath to the press later refused to be interviewed by the Terry Inquiry investigators about why he ordered Captain Brain Gemmell, to stop investigating McGrath.

Intelligence Agenda

Clearly, the Army and MI5 had very different agendas regarding McGrath and his activities.The astonishing claim by the authorities that they knew nothing about the allegations surrounding McGrath’s sexual activities until 1980 is a total travesty.

As my documents clearly show, it is simply not credible that I knew more about McGrath and his activities than the combined Intelligence community did in 1973/74. One must conclude, therefore, that the Intelligence Services did not tell the Inquiry all they knew about McGrath during the 1970s.

Indeed, most of the information I possessed about McGrath in 1973/74 came from within the Intelligence community and was quite substantial. Moreover, my 1973 press briefing document clearly contains more information about McGrath than the Intelligence Services have claimed to the Inquiry that they possessed at that time!

For example, that document states that McGrath “is a known homosexual” and that he “runs a home for children on the (236) Upper Newtownards Road. Telephone: B’fast 657838.”

Finally, to suggest that because I gave the press the exact postal address (including the street number of the property), plus the telephone number of the Kincora home, but did not actually include the name,‘Kincora’, that somehow invalidates my evidence.

That is an unacceptable attempt to avoid facing up to what I have been saying over the years, and also shows that the claim made by the Intelligence Services to the Inquiry that they were not aware until 1980 of where McGrath worked is demonstrably false.

Overall, I believe the Inquiry has been a wasted opportunity to establish the full facts relating to this matter and I feel the victims have been let down yet again, as they were by previous Inquiries.

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