On Monday, January 25th, 1982, Andy Pollak and myself called at Ian Paisley’s home on the Upper Newtownards Road to see if he would answer some questions arising out of statements made to The Irish Times by Valerie Shaw, a former missionary in his Free Presbyterian Church.
According to Miss Shaw’s testimony, she had informed Paisley on several occasions that William McGrath, who was well known to him because of their joint involvement in evangelical and Loyalist matters, was homosexual and was employed as a housefather at Kincora Boys Home. She was concerned about the welfare of the boys, but Paisley had ignored her warnings.
When we made our way to Paisley’s home, McGrath had just pleaded guilty to a range of charges that he along with two other Kincora employees had abused boys in their care. They were jailed for between four and six years.
(In mitigation for using what would now be considered inappropriate language, this was 1982 and attitudes to gay matters were still in the dark ages. Nowadays we would have made it clear that McGrath was primarily a pedophile.)
Paisley refused to talk to us and because of that the Times decided to hold the story. The next day, however, Paisley announced that he would be holding a press conference at his church, The Martyrs’ Memorial on the Ravenhill Road to deal with these matters.
Flanked by James Heyburn, his Church Secretary, Paisley first read out a statement and then the press conference followed, which was dominated by a series of questions from myself and Andy Pollak and answers from Ian Paisley. Following that, on the next day, Valerie Shaw held her own press conference
What follows are the reports of all this in the Irish Times, reports that were made possible by Valerie Shaw who died at a Co. Armagh nursing home at the weekend. First Valerie Shaw’s interview, followed by Paisley’s statement and the ensuing press conference. Enjoy:
NOTE: Paisley never did sue.