Northern Ireland news

Kincora abuse whistleblower Valerie Shaw was a 'brave lady'

Valerie Shaw, a former Free Presbyterian church missionary, raised concerns about possible sex abuse at Kincora Boys' Home in the early 1980s. File picture from Pacemaker

A FORMER Free Presbyterian missionary who helped uncover the Kincora Boys' Home sex abuse scandal has died.

Valerie Shaw, who was in her early eighties, was a "brave lady who will be remembered", a child abuse campaigner has said after she passed away at Greenpark Nursing Home in Armagh on Sunday.

Three senior care staff - William McGrath, Raymond Semple and Joseph Mains - from the children's home in east Belfast were jailed in 1981 for abusing 11 boys.

Ms Shaw said she told DUP leader and Free Presbyterian founder Ian Paisley about McGrath's activities eight years before he was arrested and brought to court.

She told a press conference in 1982 she had approached Dr Paisley "on at least seven occasions".

"I asked him time and time again what he intended to do about this," she said.

"My concern all along was very much for the fact that there were young boys under the threat of this man's corruption."

Former moderator and founder of the Free Presbyterian Church, the late Ian Paisley. File picture by Kirth Ferris, Pacemaker

Mr Paisley denied the allegations against him and said Ms Shaw should have raised her concerns with police.

But Ms Shaw insisted that she had contacted the RUC and had been ignored.

Allegations have persisted that the three men were involved in a paedophile ring linked to the intelligence services.

Prominent Orangeman McGrath, who founded hardline loyalist group Tara, was an MI5 agent.

Campaigner Margaret McGuckin, from victims' group Savia, said Ms Shaw had shown huge bravery in speaking out against sexual abuse.

"Abuse was never even spoken about at that time," she said.

"She was a brave lady who spoke her truth."

Ballysillan Elim Church tweeted: "Valerie was an incredible woman and a true servant of the Lord and will be missed by all who knew her".

Ms Shaw's funeral is to take place at the north Belfast church tomorrow morning followed by burial in Carnmoney Cemetery.

The building which houses the former Kincora home is up for sale. The property's owner has applied for planning permission for 12 apartments on the site.

Victims have previously called for the building to be torn down.

The building on the Upper Newtownards Road in east Belfast which housed the former Kincora Boys' Home. File picture by Pacemaker

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