Kincora And British Intelligence – Part Two

Apologies for taking so long to reproduce the second part of the Kincora hearings dealing with British intelligence involvement, or not, and knowledge, or not, of abuse at the notorious boys home in Belfast in the 1970’s. The reason is simple: the pdf version used by the hearing is almost impossible to copy in bulk and so reproduction is a tedious and lengthy business. However I hope to get on top of the problem and reproduce all the sections dealing with MI5, MI6, the British military and RUC Special Branch.

This section deals with the part played by MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, in their dealings with Brian Gemmell, the British Army officer who is on record as saying that in 1975 he was warned off Kincora by the resident MI5 liaison officer at British Army headquarters. At this time MI6 and MI5 shared intelligence responsibilities in Northern Ireland in a unit called the Irish Joint Section.

Along with two other key witnesses, Roy Garland, a former member of Tara, the Loyalist paramilitary group founded by Kincora housefather William McGrath, and Colin Wallace, a former British Army information officer who has also alleged intelligence knowledge of Kincora, Brian Gemmell has declined to give evidence in person at the inquiry.

The Kincora scandal is being examined as part of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIAI) which has limited powers to call witnesses. Campaigners for the truth attempted, without success, to have Kincora included in the Goddard inquiry into child abuse which does have the power to compel witnesses. Evidence from MI5 and MI6 largely takes the form of documents provided by the spy agencies themselves.

June 29, 2016

MR AIKEN: Chairman, Members of the Panel, if possible, if we took a short break and we could resume and carry on for a period of time looking at the material.

CHAIRMAN: Yes. We will rise for a few minutes.
(3.45 pm)
(Short break)
(3.55 pm)
Material relating to intelligence agencies dealt with by COUNSEL TO THE INQUIRY (cont.)

CHAIRMAN: I think we are reduced to a few faithful attenders.

MR AIKEN: Yes. There is additional Brownie points for Mr McGuinness today! The next — we’d looked at a document from 13th February 1976. I shouldn’t leave out Mr Murray, who is also present.

CHAIRMAN: I did say in the plural.


CHAIRMAN: I could see Mr Murray, even if you couldn’t.

MR AIKEN: The next document we are going to look at is of 15th October 1976, and this begins a sequence of documents that are likely to be highly relevant to your consideration, Members of the Panel. These are 9 documents that arise from Brian Gemmell, who was, as you know, a captain in the Army, meeting two SIS officers in London.

Now it appears he believed them to be MI5 officers, and it shows the difficulty with the Irish Joint Section, but he provided them with the material that’s summarised in a Secret Intelligence Service record. If we can bring up 3508, please, of 19th October 1976. Now we will be able to go to better quality copies of these documents shortly, but what I want to do is just immediately identify the significance of this, because you will recall it’s in 1975 in March, April, May and June that there’s engagement between Brian Gemmell and Ian Cameron in respect of Roy Garland and also someone else.

There’s an issue, as you know, about conflation between different individuals occurring, but that being said, on 19th October 1976 you have got this record, which is the first of a sequence, and what it is saying is: “We spoke about the above. I attach a copy of a letter written by HQ 3 Infantry Brigade, Lurgan about that above.”

Now just to be clear, what that is, is the Halford-MacLeod letter of 28th January 1976. The SIS officer is saying, “Here you are. I have got this” and he is sending it to MI5. “As our copy of this letter was obtained unofficially, please ensure that neither — you guys don’t take any action on this without reference to us.” Now if we just scroll down on to the next page, please, we then have a further document of 19th October and this is an internal document within The Secret Intelligence Service and it is saying: “Tara. We attach copies of papers handed to the SIS individual by Gemmell on 15th October, which he obtained from his Army files. He made the following comments on these papers.” Then you can see what’s referred: “(a) Tara — note to file.” It is given “3350/18 Volume II”. That’s an Army reference:

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“This paper was written by Gemmell and is based on the contents of his file on Tara.”

Then the second document: “(b) Notes on interview with Roy Garland. These were made by Gemmell and his NCO after a ‘one-off’ debrief sanctioned by Ian Cameron.”

Now you can immediately see if that’s accurate, then some of the subsequent statements about the sequence of events may be being conflated and misremembered, because as opposed to being told not to speak to, you can see that this is notes of an interview that have taken place after permission was given to speak to, and then the third document is a Tara proclamation.

Now I want us to look at the two key documents that were handed over by Brian Gemmell to The Secret Intelligence Service officers he met. It is irrelevant for Inquiry purposes whether Brian Gemmell — it may be irrelevant for Inquiry purposes whether Brian Gemmell was entitled to or should have as an Army officer handed over the documents to The Secret Intelligence Service. The fact is according to the record made by The Secret Intelligence Service officer that is what he did. The note to file that’s referred to here is dated 14th October 1976. So it is a document that is dated one day before the meeting that is recorded in these records, which is said to have taken place, as you can see in the second line of paragraph 1, on 15th October. Now there is a better copy of it. There’s a copy at 3509, but there’s a better copy at 105030, please. Just if we scroll down, please, it allows you to — it is easier for you to read that document. So you can see exactly what was being recorded in the note.

We can now look at the note to file. You will find a copy at 3532, 3533 and 3534, but there’s better copy I want to show you at 105027. Now I want just to — you can see the reference in the top left, the note to file. So it’s matching the reference in the memo that we looked at indicating the note to file, and you can see in the top right it’s dated 14th October 1976. You have the SIS officer telling his colleague in the SIS, “Brian Gemmell told us he wrote this and we met him on 15th October 1976”. So you can see then there is a record of Tara first coming to notice and the development of it you can see. In paragraph 2 the organisation and its roots, its recent coming to public notice with the issue to the press of an unsigned proclamation of intent in January 1972. You can see: “It was about this time that William McGrath formed Tara on its present day lines.”

You can see he is noting the strangeness of the name in the context of the organisation, but then you can see the section that begins “Members of Tara”: “Sources indicate that the Tara membership is small, possibly 300 Province-wide and about 70 activists in Belfast.”

Now, as I said to you, it is not about whether it’s accurate or not. It’s about the information that he has and he’s then recording in a report and providing. “There is evidence that a number of the members are sexually deviant.” Just pause. It is going to be difficult, but this is not written in 2016. This is written in 1976.

Therefore what that phrase might mean today is perhaps different from it would have been intended to mean in 1976. You can see he goes on to describe what he means:”William McGrath, the past OC, almost certainly is bisexual and there are homosexuals in his immediate circle of Tara associates.” Then you can see he goes on to explain about the nature of the organisation, and then in paragraph 5 he is recording an individual as reporting that the numbers are falling and they had gone public to create a myth about their size. “A senior member of Tara recently claimed that, although not a large operation, it was able to operate through pulling strings. This is believed to be factual.”

Then you can see: “In 1975 it was reported that many of the older members of the UDA were anxious to join Tara. Some had been in Tara.” So intelligence around Tara. Then you can see the “Conditions of entry”, paragraph 7, the qualifications that allowed you to join Tara. If we scroll down a little further, please, you can then see “Role and aims”, and you can see it sets out the different references to what Tara intended to do and its contrast with other organisations, and it was described as: “… the hard core of Protestant resistance, defence and planning organisation for use only in a Doomsday situation. Its current active role is that of intelligence gathering. They are known to operate contacts in the Loyalist political parties.” Then you have got reference to “Weapons” and then “Structures”. You can see the reference in paragraph 15 to the platoons and then you can see “Major personalities”:

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“OC — William McGrath,.” So again you’ve got the same reference to 5, which is incorrect:
“May be stood down due to ill health.”

You have got the other individuals whose names you know in any event ascribed to those positions. Now he then summarises the raison d’etre. If we just scroll down, you can see there is no other information on the page. So that’s the note for file, 3 of 3 pages. Now what will be immediately apparent, Members of the Panel, is that this document written on 14th October 1976 is said to be a summary of what is known about Tara and it principal members, and if we go back up, please, to the first page, paragraph 4, you can see what is said about William McGrath, that: “… [he] is almost certainly bisexual and there are homosexuals in his immediate circle of Tara associates.” There is no reference to Kincora.

There is no reference to allegations of abuse taking place in Kincora on anyone in his care. The allegation is he is bisexual and there are others around him in Tara who are homosexual. Now the Army wasn’t in a position or is not yet in a position to produce this document to the Inquiry. That is because it has not yet been possible to find the Army HQNI Tara file, which definitely did exist, or the 39 Brigade Tara file, which may be the one that Brian Gemmell had and which this document may well have been found on.

Those files, according to Mr Rucker, who you are aware did the report examining much wider issues, but including looking at matters relating to Kincora and the Army, according to Mr Rucker, they appear to have last been with The Security Service in that he sent them to The Security Service for them to reconsider matters in them that he was looking at, but The Security Service hasn’t as yet been able to trace them in order to know do they still have them, did they send them back to the Army or have they been destroyed? Getting to the bottom of that is going to be difficult, but it’s the case that Mr Rucker reviewed those two files in 1989/’90 when writing his report, and we will be able to look at what he says about that.

Then it is also the case that Major Saunders had access to them in 1982 and produced some of their contents to Detective Chief Superintendent Caskey during the secret part of the RUC Phase Two investigation or Phase Three, as I have called it, the investigation into military intelligence. We know from Major Saunders’ witness statement that he had access to those files and from them he carved a number of documents that he considered relevant, and this was not one of them, if it was to be found on either of the files. Going back to the note, the second document that’s referred to in the memo from the SIS officer of 19th October 1976 which was also said to have been handed over on the same date by Brian Gemmell was his interview notes that he and/or his NCO had with Brian — with Roy Garland. Now those are exhibited to the — the interview notes are exhibited to the SIS statement at 3532 through to 3534. If we just look at 3532, please. Sorry. If we just scroll down on to the next page in case I’ve got the reference wrong. Yes. Sorry. 3533 and 3534. So you can see someone has written along the top: “Notes of an interview with Roy Garland, ex-Tara member, left 1972.” I don’t know whether you can read into the — on the left-hand side beneath “Notes” whether that is a start of a 9 that has been cut of and then a 7 and a 5, indicating we are missing a 1 on the left-hand side and the side — the left-hand side of the 9 or whether it is something else, but you can see: “Garland introduced to McGrath when he was 15 (20 years ago). McGrath at the time

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Christian/evangelical crusader. Held meetings at McGrath’s, attended also by REDACTED”, REDACTED “and REDACTED. McGrath proposed they should form a group as these youngsters all had makings of becoming Prime Ministers, etc. They first formed a group called Cell. However, McGrath thought this sounded rather red and they decided on Tara (this was about 1965-’66). They held meetings between themselves and McGrath would single them out after meetings. McGrath attempted to seduce them by claiming to show them emotional freedom.

To this end he made them feel guilty by admitting to masturbation, therefore showing up their guilt complex. This is important to emphasise, as it is the very beginning of McGrath’s hold on them.” Then the information goes on to look at various individuals associated with Tara. I am not going to spend time going through that now, because it doesn’t contain any more information of the type the Inquiry is interested in other than you can see Roy Garland never saw any weapons. “Many [something] became disillusioned after joining either with McGrath’s unsavoury reputation or with all the talk and no action. The Christian overtones did not go down well with a percentage of recruits.” So if we just scroll a little further down, please, you can see then various individuals are discussed. You have got REDACTED, REDACTED. You can see this allegation is recorded: “Roy Garland claims that McGrath was responsible for spreading rumours of KIN63’s homosexual activities, having posters posted around Belfast ‘Nice boy KIN63′.” You will find that in documents we come back to look at: “According to Roy Garland, KIN63 knows that McGrath was responsible for this.” You can see: “Roy Garland believes although Ian Paisley knows of McGrath’s nefarious activities, he would be better to take action, because the exposé would also affect  REDACTED, REDACTED therefore doing DUP no good.”

I think that sentence is missing a word.

CHAIRMAN: One might logically think there should be a “not” after “better”.

MR AIKEN: Yes. If we scroll down on to the next page, please, there’s a short paragraph to finish it off. Now what you will immediately note, perhaps consistent with Brian Gemmell’s interest, and, in fact, when we come to look at a note, a direction that this one-off debrief with Roy Garland was to be what he could tell us about Tara, there is nothing in it, as you can
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see, about Kincora or McGrath committing homosexual offences on boys living in Kincora. So it is a record of perhaps where the Army officers’ interests lay on one view, and you will recall that Brian Gemmell told Detective Chief Superintendent Caskey in 1982 — the reference — I am not going to bring up, but it is at 30146 in the middle of the page — of having written a four-page MISOR, a military intelligence source report, following — it is on the screen. We will see the reference to the MISOR if we scroll down just a little. He — you will want to look very closely at whether, in fact, he had a second meeting with Roy Garland, and/or if he did, or was involved in the writing up of his Corporal — Corporal Q we are going to call him for now — Corporal Q’s meeting with Roy Garland, whether the record we are now looking at is more likely to be the record Brian Gemmell is referring to. So either — there’s the notes for interview and whether or not that has been conflated with a MISOR, or whether by the time he’s speaking in 1982 he is remembering his 14th October ’76 document, which albeit was a year after he met Roy Garland, that he says he wrote, or when we look at the sequence of events, unfortunately the complexity is in understanding his belief that it was after he met Roy Garland that he wrote this MISOR and was told then to break off contact with him, when, in fact, the sequence of events in the document seems to suggest that he had interviewed Jim McCormick and then before meeting Roy Garland was given the instruction that getting into matters of homosexuality was not the interest of the Army but there could be a one-off debrief about Roy Garland’s knowledge of Tara.

So what exactly was said to be on the MISOR and the correct sequence of events may be conflated and confused in this document, but in any event no-one has been able to find a MISOR that arose on foot of the Roy Garland meeting that Brian Gemmell had.

What we do have are the interview notes that Brian Gemmell provided to The Secret Intelligence Service along with his note to file on Tara and you may ask in reflecting on these matters if there had been a MISOR on Tara or on William McGrath or anything to do with Kincora, when he is handing these documents over to the Secret Intelligence Service, given they are not — shouldn’t be receiving any of them, why not include the MISOR, a copy of which would presumably be on the same file that he’s gone to to get the document that he has produced? Now on 19th October, as we saw, if we go back to 3508, please, the Secret Intelligence Service write to

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MI5 and provide the Halford-MacLeod letter, and the clean copy of that is at 30297 to 30302, and the author is explaining, as you saw, that the communication — in this communication to MI5 that the Halford-MacLeod letter was obtained unofficially. We looked at the index card earlier. If we just go back to 105009, please, and if we look at the entry of 19th October 1976, you will see: “See reference for write-up on subject and the Tara Brigade, 19th October 1976.” So whether this is the note that is referred to there based on the documents that are attached to the 19th October ’76 memo that we have seen, or if there was some other report, it hasn’t been possible as yet for The Secret Intelligence Service to find that. So it may be that that, the document we have just been looking at of 19th October ’76, is what this entry refers to. Then on an MI5 telegram of 21st January 1977, if we look, please, at 105202 — so these documents have been sent across to MI5. If we scroll down, please, you can see the date, 21st January 1977. Titled: “William McGrath and Tara. Reference …”, and you can see to the document of 19th October 1976 that we have just looked at.

“The attachment to your above-referenced letter has raised several questions. As the source was said to be retaskable, please would you enquire whether further information can be sought. For your own information only … has been identified, who has had a contact in London and is probably identical in 19… The questions are as follows.” So what’s being read here is the Halford-MacLeod letter. You will remember it contains all sorts of names and information, and questions are then being asked about the contacts that are identified in the Halford-MacLeod letter and being set out as questions that MI5 would like consideration to be given to getting answers.

If we scroll down on to the next page, you can see at paragraph 4(c), for instance, they are saying MI5 did not have any information on the revolutionaries conference that McGrath was said to have attended in the 1960s. Further questions were asked about that to see can they find out any other information about it. Now if we scroll down a little further, please, on 31st January, so ten days later, if we go to 105032, please, the SIS have produced a copy of this as well. It is easier to read here. You can see “Dated:

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31st January, Received: 1st February”. This is a UK-based Secret Intelligence Service officer sending a telegram to intelligence staff in Northern Ireland, and copying it to MI5 in London and to SIS, and it refers to having given a copy of the Halford-MacLeod letter to MI5, and they are asking if the source can re… — can be retasked. So they are referring back to the document we have just looked at, saying, “This is what has been asked”. If we scroll down on to the next page, I think we will see: “We have spoken to Gemmell, who has confirmed that
there would be no objection to one of the MI5 or SIS officers discussing this letter with the Army.” On 2nd February, the next day, if we look at 105204, please, MI5 in Belfast reply expressing their reluctance to ask about the Halford-MacLeod letter, given that they had received it when they should not have, and Belfast asks to see the letter, including because they did not know the source for it.

Then on 4th February, so two days later, at 105205 a note attached a report investigating the potential involvement of you will see RIS, the Russian Intelligence Service, with Protestant extremists in Northern Ireland. In the report if we scroll down, please, to 105206, you can see that paragraph 2(b) does contain a reference to William McGrath. So it’s looking at a whole list of individuals who are not relevant to the Inquiry, but if we scroll down to 2(b), please, you can see:

“Reverend William McGrath …” So we have moved from an MBE to a minister of religion: “… leader of Tara, attended a conference of revolutionaries in the mid-1960s.” Some other representatives were also present: “McGrath is said to have some hold over Paisley.”

Then on 11th February 1977, if we can look at 3570, please, MI5 and SIS in London receive a telegram from intelligence staff in Northern Ireland providing information about Tara. You can see that William McGrath features in paragraph 3. If we scroll down a little bit, you can see: “Talking about arms, the commander said that William McGrath, another prominent figure in Tara, had promised the East Belfast group a consignment of Thompson machine guns as long ago as 1969.” So you can see the reference back to — there were said to be 500 of them: “This consignment had never materialised. He added

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that he knew that McGrath still owed £2,000 for the purchase of weapons now in the possession of the commander.”

You can see: “In the past there have been few indications of the Tara quote orbat unquote semicolon the existence of a commander in East Belfast is, in itself, of interest.”

On 15th February 1977, if we can look, please, at 3511, an SIS officer in London sent a telegram to intelligence staff in Belfast and also to MI5. There is an MI5 copy, which might be easier to read, if we look at 105208, please. If we just scroll down, please. Yes. So one officer is giving the other officer
congratulations for having — flushing out information on Tara via his source, and then: “We look forward to learning more about the orbat and finances of this organisation. When we have such information we may be able to put Tara in its proper perspective.

Two points raised immediately by your telegram.” Then they are looking to discover various pieces of information. You can see in (B):
“Would the Tara recruiting campaign”, that’s postulated, “offer a loophole to penetrate Tara if considered — if we considered it a worthwhile target?”

You may consider, Members of the Panel, whether this is a rather strange document if Tara was a construct of or controlled by the intelligence services and the leader was one of their agents. This is February 1977. McGrath has been working in Kincora since June 1971 and has already sexually abused most of the boys who would make allegations against him, including all of the boys who claimed he engaged in homosexual sex with them.

On 16th February 1977, if we look at 105209, please, MI5 in London confirmed, if we scroll down, please, that Tara was a worthwhile target and supported recruitment to penetrate. Now you can obviously — the implication of supporting an attempt to recruit to penetrate the organisation carries an implication as to the position at the point in time when consideration is being given to recruit to penetrate.

The following day, 17th February 1977, if we look at 3512, please, this is an SIS record. It’s article 6. Intelligence staff in Northern Ireland respond to the suggested penetration. You can see it is on the screen at article 5, but if we scroll down, it is said: “Beyond knowing that there is a recruiting campaign in Tara, we know little about it. So we are not sure whether we are yet in a position to discover a loophole that could be exploited by the Irish Joint Section. We

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do not know, for instance, where Tara seek its recruits apart from quote other organisations unquote. Certainly considers Tara to be a worthwhile target. Both the two individuals have been briefed to find traces of this elusive organisation.”

On 30th May, if we look at 3513, please, MI5 wrote to The Secret Intelligence Service requesting details of the subscriber to an international telephone number who was believed to be a contact of William McGrath but of whom they had no trace. Now MI5 have then produced to the Inquiry the internal direction, if we look at 105158, please, that we have looked at already, to produce a file in the name of William McGrath, and you can see the reason given for the opening of a file. You may consider the date of this occurrence to be of considerable significance to your work, Members of the Panel. On 15th June 1977, if we can look at 105210, please, an MI5 report of a discussion with a source did include a section on Tara and you can see that it is recording historical information that the individual provided as to the nature of the organisation. A record of 6th August 1979, if we can look, please, at 105211, and we look at the bottom of the page and then on to the next page, this records a conversation

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between MI5 officers on 31st July 1979 about what’s described as “minor Protestants”. You can see that Tara gets a mention and you can see what’s said about it. Then on the next page you can see that it’s described as “microscopic”: “Eventually most Tara members left or joined the more defensively minded UVF and Tara withered to its present ‘microscopic’ size.” You can see: “It’s a group of thinkers rather than doers.”

On the — you can see they are said to have a friend close to the centre of the Southern Government. On 27th October 1979, if we look at 105213, please, MI5 received an extract from an RUC intelligence report which recorded someone other than William McGrath then being the OC of Tara and confirming that very little had been heard of Tara in recent years. Now then if we look at 3520, please, so right up to this point the Kincora scandal has not appeared in the news, in the documents that we have been looking at up to this point, and this document is dated 13th February 1980. So it’s after the Kincora scandal has broken, and intelligence staff in Northern Ireland are writing to the Secret Intelligence Service in London. You may consider it’s not surprising that the

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intelligence officers got out their material they have on William McGrath. You can see: “The above report named first name unknown McGrath as leader of Tara and alleged to be involved in the alleged scandal of homosexual activity in a Belfast boys’ home. A number of demands are being made for a public inquiry and you may be interested in the following details. McGrath is William McGrath.”

Gives his date of birth: “In 1976 he was reported to be warden of the Kincora Boys’ Hostel,  where he still lives.” That’s not accurate, as you know: “He is (or was) leader of Tara. Our records suggest he is or may have been known to an agency based here or in London. McGrath is reported to be a very active homosexual.”

You can see his conquests are said to include a particular individual and a number of differen individuals named as having been involved with him. You can see then: “Some contact … said to have been responsible for posters reading ‘Nice boy KIN63’ which appeared all over Belfast.”

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If we scroll down, please, you can say — this is recorded: “[For] London only. In view of the possibility of a public inquiry possibly lifting the curtain on this fascinating scene you may like to consider whether any of this needs to be passed to …” a particular section within the organisation.

So it only took us thirty-six years, but there we are. The curtain on the fascinating scene is being lifted.

So the phrase that’s up above about being known to the — if we scroll up, please: “Our records suggest he is or may have been known to an agency based here or in London”, it is not clear what that is a reference to. Obviously the person is drawing on information in Northern Ireland. So we saw in the 1989 document that was internal between MI5 officers that they had access to the card, and it may be the same or a different card than the one that was held centrally by MI5. But we’ve gone through the material based on the Inquiry examinating — examining a vast swathe of intelligence records, and what we have — what I have endeavoured to set out for you publicly are those

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documents that disclose what intelligence officers in either MI5 or the Secret Intelligence Service were on notice of in respect of William McGrath. As you know, there’s much further post-1980 analysis material that has been made available to the Inquiry by the intelligence agencies where they are looking back at what they knew, and we will touch on that material in due course.

CHAIRMAN: Well, I think we have reached a natural break in the proceedings. We will adjourn now and resume hopefully as close to 9.30 tomorrow as possible.

(4.40 pm)

(Inquiry adjourned until 9.30 tomorrow morning)

2 responses to “Kincora And British Intelligence – Part Two

  1. Pingback: Kincora And British Intelligence – Part Two | cathy fox blog

  2. Pingback: Kincora And British Intelligence – Part Two | Ace News Room

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