Claims of Kincora abuse ‘aired in 1967’

The former Kincora Boys home on the Upper Newtonards Road, Belfast
The former Kincora Boys home on the Upper Newtonards Road, Belfast

Social workers were told of sex abuse allegations at the former Kincora Boys’ Home as early as 1967, a public inquiry has heard.

The Historical Institutional Abuse (HIA) Inquiry was shown a handwritten letter sent to the Belfast Welfare Authority in which it was claimed boys were being regularly assaulted by the house warden Joseph Mains.

The letter, dated September 1967, also described how one boy, known only as R5, was sent to bed early, made to scrub floors and work in the garden for rejecting Mains’ advances.

R5 wrote: “I first realised something was wrong as far as Mr Mains was concerned.

“Very often when boys were washing he would come into the washroom and put his arms around our chests and hold us tightly to him.

“Also, sometimes as boys walked past him in the home he would touch them up.”

The long-running inquiry, at Banbridge Courthouse, is examining allegations of state-sponsored child prostitution, blackmail and cover-up.

There have been persistent allegations that a high-ranking paedophile ring preyed on vulnerable teenage boys at Kincora during the 1970s.

It is further alleged that the UK security services knew about the abuse but did nothing to stop it, instead using the information to blackmail and extract intelligence from the influential men, including senior politicians, who were the perpetrators.

In a statement given to police in the 1980s, R5 recalled how Mains had become jittery, frightened and offered him cigarettes and possibly money when he heard that the complaint had been lodged with the authorities.

It also emerged that another boy reported allegations of child sex abuse in two detailed letters in 1971.

The five-page documents, also shown to the inquiry, were delivered to the Belfast Welfare Authority and to the office of a social worker with a reference that they should be handed into a central police station.

However, Joseph Aiken, counsel to the HIA, said the reference to give the letter to police was “missed” and detectives did not receive the information until 1976.

In 1981, Mains and two other senior care workers, deputy warden Raymond Semple and house-master William McGrath, were convicted for abusing boys at Kincora during the 1970s.

A year later, a detective from Sussex Police, who had been looking into the allegations of a paedophile ring, said many of the residents had been “sexually naive youngsters”.

The inquiry continues today.