Richard Kerr tells of how well-connected men picked up boys at world-famous hotel
By Fiona O’Cleirigh | 5 June 2015
In explosive testimony to Exaro, Kerr gives an account of being one of two boys who were trafficked to the world-famous hotel in central Belfast by Kincora staff who were later convicted of child sex abuse.
They took the boys to the Europa’s bar, and plied them with alcohol. He said that the Kincora staff then forced them to have sex with well-connected guests, who would take them upstairs to carry out the abuse in hotel rooms.
Kerr says that one staff member, Joseph Mains, the warden at Kincora, also arranged a job for him at the Europa as a bellboy when he turned 16 so that men could continue to abuse him.
He is unable to identify abusers at the Europa, but said that many were from England. He said that a lot of the visitors to the Europa’s bar, the Whip and Saddle, were “political people” and “government people” from England.
He said: “I was well groomed, because of my age, because of my stay in children’s homes since the age of five.” He said that Mains also took his friend from Kincora, Stephen, to the Europa for abuse. Stephen later died in mysterious circumstances, according to Kerr.
The Europa is well known as the main hotel in Belfast where government officials and journalists from London would stay during what were known as “the Troubles”, and for frequently being blown up by the IRA as part of its terror campaign for a united Ireland.
“The bar was designed for homosexuals,” said Kerr. “In those days, they wanted to keep everything quiet. So everybody met at the Whip and Saddle – the political people, the government people.”
Of course, not everyone who went to the Whip and Saddle or stayed at the Europa was part of the abuse as described by Kerr. There is no suggestion that the Europa, which has been transformed since Northern Ireland was riven by civil war, continues to be used as a place to pick up boys.
Kerr says that Mains often sexually abused him at Kincora. Mains was later jailed for six years for sexual offences against boys at the home between 1960 and 1980.
Three former Kincora boys, including Kerr, went to the High Court in Belfast this week as they sought judicial review of the decision by Theresa May, home secretary, to exclude the children’s home in Northern Ireland from the remit of overarching inquiry into child sex abuse in the UK.
In February, the court granted permission for the judicial review to go ahead. But judgement on the substantive issue was last week delayed until September at the earliest, pending a judgement in the Supreme Court that may set a precedent relevant to the legal arguments in the case.
He also appeared on Channel 4 News to say that he was sexually abused at Dolphin Square, an apartment complex near Westminster, as well as Elm Guest House.
Kerr, who emigrated to America, has been speaking to Exaro since August 2013 but remains fearful of allowing much to be reported of his experiences of sexual abuse as a boy inside and outside of Kincora boys’ home in east Belfast.
We today publish more details of Kerr’s disturbing description of how he and another boy were taken for sexual abuse at the Europa when they were “in care” at Kincora.
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