Millar discussed Kincora judicial inquiry with NIO

Fri, Dec 28, 2012, 00:00

Child abuse was in the news in Northern Ireland in 1982. On January 15th, Northern secretary James Prior announced that a “private” committee of inquiry would investigate allegations being made about Kincora boys’ home in east Belfast.

Following a newspaper report in 1980, three members of staff at the home, William McGrath, Raymond Semple and Joseph Mains, were charged with offences relating to the systematic abuse of children in their care.

On May 6th, according to papers opened in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland for 1982, Stephen Leach of the Northern Ireland Office’s political affairs division had lunch with Frank Millar, the press and information officer of the Official Unionist Party who later became London editor of The Irish Times, and sent an account of it to his boss, David Blatherwick.

He said most of the talk with this “acute and mildly disaffected member of the Glengall Street team” was about the quality of James Molyneaux’s leadership.

Leach recounted that they discussed Kincora. “Millar expressed the strong hope (on which I did not comment) that the judicial enquiry would not begin before the Assembly election and that the whole affair would die a natural death. (He has a clear interest in trying to minimise the publicity, since he is married to William McGrath’s daughter . . .)”

McGrath, Semple and Mains were eventually sentenced to between four and six years’ imprisonment.

Millar, who was elected unopposed to the Assembly for South Belfast at a byelection in March 1984, said he had no comment to make on Leach’s note of their meeting.