to: - (—)November 8th 1974.
“TARA” - Reports Regarding Criminal Offences Associated with the Homosexual Community in
Reference A: Attached RUC background paper on “TARA”
Reference B: Attached RUC report on the death of Brian McDermott.
Reference C: Your request for a press investigation into the matters referred to above.
Reference A adds nothing of real significance to what we already know of the background to “TARA”. Furthermore, it contains a number of inaccuracies and there are various items of important information missing from it. It is difficult to say whether these flaws are the result of poor Intelligence or whether they are disinformation provided for our consumption.
If we are to interest the press in this matter with a view to exposing what has been taking place and thereby stopping further assaults in these hostels, then I would strongly advise that we make use of our own background information and exclude the rather contentious and, indeed, politically suspect material contained in the above. As you know I did try to develop
press interest in this matter last year but without any success. I also feel that it is difficult to justify our interest in what is purely a police and political matter because, in my opinion, TARA is no longer of any security interest.
In theory TARA was basically a credible concept from a loyalist paramilitary point of view, but it never progressed beyond the planning stage. Such a body could, no doubt, have made good use of the Orange Order’s normal selection and “vetting” ’ system for screening potential
recruits, and it would have had ready-made facilities for clandestine training by making use of the Orange halls throughout the province. The idea failed for a number of reasons, mainly because of William McGrath’s rather strange political views which are more akin to Irish Nationalism than Unionism, and the fact that other organisations which appeared to be more in keeping with the needs of the loyalist community at that time, sprang up during the period.
Reference A deals with McGrath’s background in considerable detail but it is inaccurate in a number of respects. The Kincora hostel in Newtonards Road where he works was opened in 1959 under the control and administration of Belfast Corporation welfare department. He does not, as the paper claims, “run the hostel” - he is employed as a “housefather”. The warden of Kincora is Joseph Mains and the deputy warden is Raymond Semple. Mains was appointed in 1959 and Semple in 1964. Both men are known homosexuals. Indeed various allegations of homosexual assault on the inmates were investigated by senior ------ ----- in 1967 but no action was taken against anyone. (See notes of a report by Mr ---- at flag 'N")
It is untrue to say that allegations of assaults on the inmates of Kincora '“began shortly after his appointment”. As I have pointed out in para 4 above, allegations were made as early as 1967 and there is also evidence that assaults may have taken place as early as 1959, soon after Mains was appointed.
Reference A claims that McGrath “is a known homosexual” but it avoids any mention of his links with other key figures in the local homosexual community, other than to insinuate that a number of well known political personalities with whom he came into contact were also homosexuals. For example, in para 6 of reference A, it is claimed that McGrath left his previous employment “…” whereas our information would tend to indicate that … is well known in unionist party circles (see also…) and was for some time… (see flag “M”) … and McGrath … and … has been actively engaged in trying to have McGrath removed from Kincora 's own version of events (see flag “0”) is, of course, very enlightening, but I would suggest that it should be treated with caution until it can be substantiated because of the antagonism between them. It would also appear that many of the RUC source reports on this matter after 1971 originated from …
McGrath was himself the subject of an internal investigation by the Belfast Corporation welfare department in 1972-73, following allegations of more homosexual assaults on the inmates of Kincora. One of our own sources confirmed in 1972 that a number of complaints had been received about hisbehaviour and that although the complaints had been passed to … and to the RUC, no action had been taken against him. This would appear to be confirmed, to some extent, by Mr… (see flag “R”) in 1973.
There were of course similar allegations relating to other hostels during this period (see Bawnmore, Westwinds, Burnside etc) and this conflicts with reference A’s assertion that the allegations were confined to Kincora.
- It should be remembered that the 1967 Sexual Offences Act does NOT apply to Northern
Ireland and homosexual intercourse between adults or with minors is a criminal offence. The apparent lack of interest, therefore, by the welfare authorities and the RUC is quite remarkable.
Furthermore the claim made by Mrs …(T?)… (see flag “Q”) that key individuals in the … were themselves homosexuals and thus … but also covered up the offences that took place and protected the offenders, requires very serious examination. In particular, I view her allegations about Joss Cardwell with great concern because it illustrates the political
difficulties we are likely to face if we become involved.
- Reference B which deals with the circumstances surrounding the murder of Brian McDermott last year puts forward the theory that the killing had both sexual and witchcraft overtones. The only link that can be identified between the murder and the homosexual community is via John McKeague (see flag “S”). McKeague’s own statements raise more questions than they answer.
Certainly his boast that he will not be prosecuted because “he knows too much about some people” merits serious investigation, but I suspect that he will not be prepared to talk until he is released. It is also rather remarkable that no charges have been preferred against him …
Our own investigations of instances of alleged witchcraft or other satanic rites in the province would tend to dismiss the RUC’s theory that Brian McDermott’s murder could be part of these activities.
In the past “black magic” practices etc have been mainly confined to groups operating from republican areas, with the possible exception of three cases in C. Antrim. I think, however, that from a press point of view we would be very foolish to give any credence to such claims without the most convincing evidence. The forensic reports on the McDermott murder (see flag ‘T’) would tend to indicate that someone tried to dispose of the body by cutting it into pieces and burning them. The insinuation made in the document regarding the boy’s disappearance, and the proximity of … is dangerous nonsense.
10.Reference A claims that a number of key personalities in the political arena “are aware of the Kincora situation and, in particular of McGrath’s background.” It does not explain the extent of their awareness nor of each individual’s involvement with McGrath. In summary it would appear that the document is claiming that:
a. … … of the Grand Orange Lodge are aware of the situation because of the discussions and correspondence relating to McGrath within the Orange Order. It is further alleged that … and … have blocked any action against McGrath.
b. … is aware of the situation but has failed to take any action because of the possible blackmail pressure owing to his connection with McGrath,… and John McKeague. On the face of it the statements made by … and … (see flag “F”) would tend to support only part of such a claim.
There are also a number of inconsistencies:
McGrath would appear to be strongly anti-communist and anti-UVF and this conflicts with the document’s views on links with Tommy Herron, Ernie ‘Duke’ Elliot, 'The Ulster Citizens Army" etc.
c. Various public and political figures who hold positions of power and who are also homosexuals protect each other from prosecution. The claim of a prostitution ring involving juveniles is not really substantiated other than by …'s own personal account.
It would be interesting to check, however, the number of charges brought against people involved in homosexual activities in greater Belfast area in the last 5 years. I also think the RUC report on drug abuse in this connection merits close examination because this is a natural area of fund raising of terrorists. There is, of course, the obvious problem of security with the possible blackmailing of civil servants, politicians etc.
Conclusions and recommendations
I am very far from happy with the quality of the information on this matter, and I am even more unhappy because of the, as yet unexplained, failure of the RUC or the NIO to take on this task.
I find it very difficult to accept that the RUC consistently failed to take action on such serious allegations unless that (sic) had specifically received some form of policy direction. Such direction could only have come from a very high political or police level. If that is the case then we should be even more wary about getting involved.
On the other hand, if the allegations are true then we should do everything possible to ensure that the situation is not allowed to continue. The youngsters in these hostels almost certainly come from problem families, and it is clear that no one will fight their fight unless we do.
Those responsible for the murder of Brian McDermott must be brought to trial before another child is killed, and if it can be proved that there is a connection with this homosexual group, then the RUC must be forced to take action irrespective of who is involved.
I would therefore recommend that:
a. We make one final attempt to get the RUC to investigate the matter or at least discuss the matter with RUCLO.
b. We obtain very clear and unambiguous authority from London to proceed with a press disclosure.
c. We approach a responsible journalist whom we are confident will make a thorough investigation of the matter and not simply write a sensational type story purely on the information he is given.
d. We continue to look for additional information on this matter to ensure that we are not just being used as part of some political disinformation scheme.
J.C.Wallace (Senior Information Officer)