Lyra McKee’s book ‘Angels With Blue Faces’ is the result of a five-year investigation into what Robert Bradford MP was digging into before he was murdered. It is quite possible that she uncovered one of – if not – the most putrid British Intelligence dirty-tricks operations of the entire Troubles. If not for her, the truth about this grotesque event might have remained buried forever.
Bradford, a Unionist MP, had campaigned against child pornography. What was going on at Kincora Boys’ Home clearly appalled him.
He was ideally placed to inquire into the shadowy world that lurked behind Kincora as he was not merely a senior Unionist politician but also a British Israelite. The paedophile ring that preyed on the boys at Kincora – and other homes – included William McGrath, an Orangeman, friend of James Molyneaux MP, Ian Paisley MP, and other political figures. More importantly, McGrath was also a British Israelite.
Once McGrath was arrested by the RUC’s Criminal Investigation Division, Bradford was in a pole position to pick up on the decades of gossip which had surrounded McGrath in Unionist political circles.
The UVF, UDA, Red Hand Commando and other paramilitary groups also knew of his links to British Intelligence. The UDA even had Kincora under surveillance, an easy task as it was located at a cross roads.
McGrath had also dug a hole for himself by boasting of his links to Britain’s spy agencies. By late 1981 hundreds if not thousands of Loyalists knew of McGrath’s bragging.
In the very early 1970s the UVF had been allied to McGrath’s paramilitary organisation Tara but had distanced themselves precisely because of McGrath’s links to Britain’s spy agencies. Publicly, they walked out as a group from a Tara meeting on the basis that McGrath was a homosexual not a British asset because they did not want to highlight the intelligence connection. (See ‘Her Majesty’s Hatchetman’ on this website for the wider story of the UDA’s knowledge of Kincora.)
Bradford and thousands of others knew all of this. Would MI5 possibly have deployed its Provisional IRA agent to murder him merely because of this? Hardly.
Did they do so because as a sitting Westminster MP he could raise the issue in the House of Commons and had discovered a lot more?
McGrath’s trial was set for December 1981 along with that of two other Kincora staff members. Bradford was clearly not going to interfere with a looming trial. But after it, the gloves would come off.
Bradford was rubbed out a few weeks before the trial commenced.
Lyra McKee’s investigation will add greatly to our knowledge of these murky events and uniquely, what Bradford was probing.
Her book is now available for pre-purchase from Excalibur.