Kincora 4th Inquiry Report (13.02.86)

Community Care, 13th February 1986

CC130286a CC130286b

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10 comments
  1. cathyfox said:

    If anyone does happen to know the following information, i would be grateful. Who was the reports author, what was the title, who commissioned it and the exact date!

  2. Kate MacDonald said:

    Transcript:
    PROFESSIONALS FAILED TO RECOGNISE DANGER SIGNS (Community Care, 13th February 1986)

    Years of bungling and inaction by professionals who should have detected widespread sexual abuse at the Kincora boys hostel in Belfast are exposed in the fourth inquiry report.
    The document outlined the consistent failure of social workers to appreciate that children in care were being persistently exploited by homosexual residential staff.
    The report catalogued the failure of their Eastern Health and Social Services Board bosses to see the significance of repeated rumours and act upon complaints received from a number of sources.
    It focussed on the sustained failure of the police to investigate promptly allegations abut the running of the home.
    It was only after the matter was exposed in the Irish Independent newspaper in 1980 that a major police investigation got under way. This led to the conviction, for homosexual offences against boys in care, of Kincora’s warden, Joseph Mains, assistant warden, Raymond Semple, and William McGrath, housefather at the hostel.
    The report also documented the repeated failure of the relevant authorities – the Eastern Health and Social Services Board and the DHSS in Belfast – to visit the homes regularly and ensure adequate inspections were carried out at Kincora.
    Inspections did not spot the danger signs of sexual abuse but homed in on the standard of the hostel’s amenities.
    And the report concluded that there was nothing sinister in the apparent collective paralysis of all the relevant agencies involved in the welfare of abused children at Kincora.
    The inquiry team – whose deliberations cost £870,000 – concluded there was no evidence to support allegations about the recruitment of Kincora boys into a homosexual vice scandal. None of the witnesses, including a large number of sexually abused former residents, provided evidence they had been involved in prostitution.
    The committee, which included Brent’s former director, Harry Whalley, also decided there was no evidence of a cover up. No person ever came forward with evidence that there was, the committee added.
    The inquiry team pointed out homosexual offences are difficult to detect and prevent unless complaints are made.
    However, the committee detected an ambivalence of attitudes towards allegations. “While they remain unsubstantiated they can be regarded and even ignored. Yet it is nobody’s business to substantial or discard them – an attitude at once irrational and self defeating.”
    The committee warned that social services responsibilities do not end merely with informing the police.
    And it said the absence of sufficiently well defined procedures was the single most important factor in the failure to detect what was happening at the boys hostel.
    The report, which criticises management at several other homes it investigated, costs £11.95 from HMSO.

  3. Kate MacDonald said:

    Transcript:
    INVESTIGATOR ‘PUT OFF BY PARAMILITARY LINKS’ (Community Care, 13th February 1986)

    Fears of McGrath’s alleged paramilitary links deterred district social services officer, Clive Scoular, from investigating Kincora.
    Mr Scoular told the inquiry he regarded Mr McGrath as more sinister and dangerous than an ordinary person, but denied he was afraid of him. He also denied this was the reason behind his failure to process complaints against McGrath.
    But the committee concluded that Mr Scoular was afraid of McGrath’s alleged paramilitary links. It also decided that his feeling that the two latest complaints about homosexuality at Kincora were unsubstantiated “clouded his judgement as to whether McGrath should be interviewed”.
    Mr Scoular’s hesitation followed a memo he sent in October 1977 in which he recorded: ‘I am still unhappy about Mr McGrath’s relationships with the boys in the hostel. While I feel his extra curricular activities have probably some bearing on the situation, I feel we will have to “grasp the nettle” and in some way discuss the whole situation with Mr McGrath in the near future.”
    The panel also concluded that police emphasis on the sensitivity of the investigations they were conducting into the allegations had influenced Mr Scoular.
    By December 1977, Mr Scoular was aware of a number of worrying features. He knew there had been a number of serious allegations against Kincora staff: that police were investigation McGrath and were suspicious of Mains.
    Mr Scoular had also omitted to pass on allegations of two Kincora residents to the Eastern Board.
    “We are convinced,” the panel added, “that the accumulation of these allegations, complaints and suspicions over the years should have been recognised as significant by Mr Scoular.”
    However the inquiry concluded he had “not acted with the degree of deliberation essential for an active cover up.”

  4. Kate MacDonald said:

    Transcript:
    PRAISE FOR TRAINEE WHO RAISED ALARM (Community Care, 13th February 1986)

    The trainee social worker who blew the whistle on Kincora by informing the press is praised in the report.
    Without the intervention of Helen Gogarty, “who was motivated by entirely commendable concern for the welfare of children in care,” the situation at Kincora would have continued, said the report.
    She and her colleague, social worker Judith Kennedy, were both concerned at inaction at Kincora.
    In particular, a report by Mrs Kennedy, which contained a warning that Kincora was being investigated because of the warden’s alleged involvement with a homosexual circle, was doctored by principal social worker Robert Blair.
    But she declined to delete the reference on the copy she kept.
    The committee decided Mr Blair was not suppressing information for any “improper” motive. However, he should have sought more information from Mrs Kennedy and notified the board.

  5. Kate MacDonald said:

    Transcript:
    FORMER CHIEF DIDN’T PASS ON INFORMATION (Community Care, 13th February 1986)

    Former Eastern Board social services chief, Ted Gilliland, is criticised for not informing the DHSS that police inquiries into Kincora were getting under way in 1976.
    He is similarly faulted for not telling the chairmen of the personal social services committee and the board. Like the DHSS, they needed to know.
    The inquiry also felt that Mr Gilliland or Mr Bunting should have liaised with the police to see what stage the investigation had reached.
    They had earlier been told by the police that the inquires were extremely confidential and “prominent people” were involved.
    The inquiry also found that by February 1980, eight months before Kincora was closed, the department had considerable information about irregularities.
    Confirming that this was not passed onto the DHSS, Mr Gilliland explained this was because all available information had been passed on to the police.
    “We do not accept that as adequately explaining what we consider to have been a lack of frankness,” the report said.
    “We consider this reflected a realisation that the board’s handling of the suspicions surrounding Kincora had been unsatisfactory in certain important respects.
    “In our view the department, which carried an overall responsibility for the residential child care system, was entitled to expect that the board would have briefed it fully on a matter of acute public concern and on which the department was accountable to ministers and, through them, to Parliament.”

  6. Kate MacDonald said:

    Transcript:
    YOUTHS GIVE EVIDENCE OF SEXUAL ABUSES (Community Care, 13th February 1986)

    The evidence of Kincora residents, which highlighted widespread sexual abuse at the hostel, is documented in the report.
    One youth – identified as R3 – said he and his room mate both had homosexual relationships with warden Joseph Mains.
    R3, who is planning to sue the Eastern Board, said he had run away from the hostel because of the sexual pressures on him. He did not complain because he was frightened of the warden and being sent to Borstal.
    R2 told the inquiry he was not happy with Mr Main’s advances, regarded him as powerful and had no one to turn to.
    Another resident, B3, received advances from Mr Mains and Mr Semple.
    R4, who is suing the Eastern Board, said Joseph Mains had made advances. He was too embarrassed and scared to complain to his social welfare officer, particularly as Mr Mains was always in attendance.
    R7, who also complained of inappropriate sexual behaviour by staff at the home, said he was too scared to protest.
    He and three other residents had written a letter alerting the authorities to irregularities at the home in March 1966.
    The inquiry concluded that R7’s remarks “did not provide a genuine opportunity for detecting the offences”.
    It reached the same conclusion in relation to the evidence of B1 who was propositioned by housefather William McGrath.
    The then children’s officer designate, Bob Moore – now director of social services at the Eastern Board – could not recall the boys’ visit but accepted he could have been there.
    Henry Mason, city welfare officer, subsequently put the allegations to Mains, who rejected them. However, Mr Mason had stressed the need for closer supervision of Kincora.
    With hindsight, the report said, it might have been best to call in the police.
    As it was, Mr Moore had no recollection of being asked to supervise Kincora more closely but accepted it was likely he was told to.
    Surprisingly, Mr Moore told the inquiry that he would not have put the 1967 complaints in the context of homosexuality until the Kincora scandal broke in 1980.
    More evidence was received in 1971 from another resident, whose duplicated letter was inexplicably missing when the inquiry needed it.
    The inquiry was told that the Town Clerk and Town Solicitor, both of whom are now dead, decided there was insufficient evidence to take proceedings.
    On his retirement, Mr Mason gave his file to assistant director Robert Bunting, who treated it as “a dead file”. This, said Mr Bunting, was “an oversight” – a conclusion shared by the Hughes inquiry.
    By 1973, the hostel was supervised by the new Eastern Board, but the old regime continued. For, between 1973 and 1980, Mr McGrath sexually assaulted 11 boys in care.
    During the years that followed, more anonymous phone calls and rumours reached the Eastern Board and the police from various sources, but little was done to investigate them.

  7. Kate MacDonald said:

    Transcript:
    WO – A MAN WHO ACTED CONSCIENTIOUSLY (Community Care, 13th February 1986)

    Henry Mason, Belfast’s former welfare officer, is the only person to emerge with much credit from the investigation.
    Although criticised for lack of liaison with other colleagues Mr Mason “emerged as a man who acted conscientiously and did his best to protect the interests of the boys at Kincora”.
    The report added that “Mr Mason, more than anyone else, took steps to have the complaints against Mr Mains investigated. He also recorded his efforts in a file”.

  8. Kate MacDonald said:

    Transcript:
    PRINCIPAL SOCIAL WORKER CENSURED (Community Care, 13th February 1986)

    Lorna McGrath, at that time principal social worker (residential and day care) is criticised in the report.
    It is “remarkable,” the document said, that she did not recognise the significance of a rumour about Mr Mains which she heard in 1976.
    Her failure to tell her colleagues, Mr Bunting and Mr Scoular, was “a significant omission”.

  9. Kate MacDonald said:

    Transcript:
    MONITORING WAS INSUFFICIENT (Community Care, 13th February 1986)

    More active monitoring by assistant director, Robert Bunting, may have highlighted deficiencies, the report concluded.
    Although it could not have been expected to uncover homosexual offences, it could have highlighted some of the deficiencies in supervision in other sections of the board.
    Mr Bunting is also accused of “an oversight” in consigning the crucial “Mason” file to his desk drawer.
    He should have briefed staff of the contents, the inquiries said.

  10. Kate MacDonald said:

    Transcript:
    NIPSA PLEASED (Community Care, 13th February 1986)

    Laurence Pimley, of NIPSA, this week praised the report as a “competent analysis” of events.
    “We are impressed by the way it treated social services issues.”
    While recommending the report’s approach on parity for residential and fieldwork staff, Mr Pimley wondered whether the Government would provide the necessary resources.
    The union would be “strongly against” preventing homosexuals from working with children in care.
    Mr Pimley also had reservations about the report’s recommendation on psychological tests for staff.
    “An unreliable test could be worse than no test,” he added.

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