Kincora: John McKeague And The Murder Of Brian McDermott


Loyalists have harboured within their ranks some of the most notorious deviants in Northern Ireland’s history. These include John McKeague, who led the Red Hand Commando terror group for a short time in the early Seventies. British military intelligence was aware of McKeague’s taste for young boys and used it to blackmail him into becoming an informer.

McKeague was aware through his links with other loyalist paedophiles, particularly the Orangeman William McGrath, of the child abuse going on at Kincora’s boys’ home in east Belfast.

In 1982 McKeague was about to go public about the role of British intelligence in blackmailing paedophiles like McGrath, Kincora’s housemaster, when he was shot dead by the INLA.

When McGrath’s regime of abuse became public, he was allowed to retire to the outskirts of loyalist east Belfast. None of the loyalist paramilitary groups took any action against him.

The Guardian



From a memo written by Colin Wallace entitled ‘TARA- Reports Regarding Criminal Offences Associated With the Homosexual Community in Belfast’. Extract from ‘Who Framed Colin Wallace’ by Paul Foot.


According to the memo, Mr Havers learned that the RUC was investigating three separate aspects of the Kincora affair.

“The first concerned a man… who in 1972 was falsely acquitted on the basis of perjured evidence; the file on his case has subsequently been destroyed by a bomb,” the memo reports.

Mr Havers was also told how the man may have withheld information on a notorious murder which took place nine years earlier.

The body of 10-year-old Brian McDermott was discovered in a sack in the River Lagan in September, 1973. No one was ever convicted of the killing. The meeting was told that the information provided “conflicted with what the RUC had previously told ministers and officials”.

The Belfast Telegraph


In January 1982 McKeague was interviewed by detectives investigating Kincora about his involvement in the sexual abuse. Fearful of returning to prison McKeague told friends that he was prepared to name others involved in the paedophile ring to avoid a sentence.[ Dillon, The Trigger Men, pp. 118–119] However on 29 January 1982, the INLA shot McKeague dead in his shop on the Albertbridge Road, East Belfast.[Dillon, The Trigger Men, p. 119] It has been argued that following McKeague’s threats to go public about all of those involved in Kincora his killing had been ordered by Military Intelligence as many of those who could have named were also agents, and a number of them more productive than McKeague, who by that time was highly peripheral to loyalism. To support this suggestion it has been stated that of the two gunmen who shot McKeague one was a known Special Branch agent and the other was rumoured to have Military Intelligence links. [Jack Holland & Henry McDonald, INLA – Deadly Divisions, Torc, 1994, pp. 199–200]



Filed under Abuse, News, Politics

27 responses to “Kincora: John McKeague And The Murder Of Brian McDermott

  1. Pingback: #Pédocriminalité: Revue de presse du mois d’octobre 2014 Par Donde Vamos #tginfo #Justice | peuples observateurs 2014


  3. green

    “The IRA, UDA and UVF often come under pressure from their communities to shoot alleged paedophiles and rapists. They are seen as the deliverers of swift justice. Sometimes, as in John Brown’s case, they get it horribly wrong”

    Sounds as if these accusations have been used as a popular excuse for sectarian violence. Like this probable race/disability hate crime disguised as anti-paedo vigilantiism:

    • Sabre

      Paramilitaries don’t come “under pressure” from their communities, they take the initiative in providing parallel institutions in order to obviate the need for their community to turn to the State.

      Your Zola/Lazare attempt results in a self accusation, the murderers justified their actions on flimsy evidence, You then ascribe motives to the murderers with a similar lack of evidence.

      They thought he was probably a “paedo”, You think they are probably “haters”. The consequences of the murderers grasp of probability are admittedly far graver than yours in this particular case.

  4. Sabre

    Fear, Fun,

    Loyalism is indeed conditional, the interests of Loyalist Ulster are unsurprisingly paramount to Ulster Loyalists.

    Loyalists were and indeed are aware that the British Government have viewed them as an inconvenience, an unloved cousin.

    The Irish Republic Establishment viewed Northern Republicans and Nationalists in the same way, they were less shy about hiding the fact too.

  5. Fear Feirsteach


    While I don’t have an opinion about who was responsible for the young boy’s death (and I supect you’re right that McKeague’s ‘taste’ was for older boys) McKeague’s assassination bears all the hallmarks of the security services tidying up loose ends. Though the assassin, McAllister, confessed to the crime, he was never charged with, principally because, at the time of the killing, he was an agent of RUC Special Branch

  6. Funandgames

    I agree with you, Fear Feirsteach, that Ulster Loyalists’ Loyalism has always been conditional, but nevertheless, the willingness of Orange paramilitaries to co-operate with the British Intelligence Services was in no way linked to the possibility of blackmail. I may not have expressed myself clearly enough in my first post, so I apologise for the misunderstanding.

    It might be more accurate to quote “The Godfather”: collusion between Loyalist paramilitaries and British Intelligence was “purely a business relationship.”

    My point is that the possible involvement of McKeague in the murder of Brian McDermott should be approached with extreme caution. As other posters have said, and I concur, the history of the recent Troubles in Northern Ireland is so thoroughly obscured by false trails laid down by the Intelligence Agencies and many other actors that we are in no position to unravel them.

    Speculation of this nature must be abhorrent to MCDermott’s family.

  7. Fear Feirsteach

    It’s doesn’t follow that because ‘Ulster’ loyalists consider themselves British they volunteer their services to the intelligence services. Loyalists are loyal to ‘Ulster’ first and foremost (McKeague was an adovcate of independence) and they do not trust the British at all. McKeague’s recruitment was almost certainly the result of blackmail.

    Nor does it follow that McKeague would have been killed by his own side had his links to the intelligence services been exposed. Most loyalist parmailitary leaders of the era had links to one branch of the intelligence services or another. Indeed this remains true today.

  8. dpack

    from what i have read i recon sabre has presented a plausible interpretation of this aspect of the situation .

    byzantine is a useful word and carrot and stick is a useful phrase.

    carrot includes immunity for all crimes and the means (arms,intel etc) to wield some local power politically and personally.
    carrot has serious limitations without an effective stick.
    stick includes a horrid but apparent hero’s death/prison sentence or disgrace as an informer or pervert and a probable lynching.
    the first type of stick is part of the job for those engaged in such matters but the second is a effective means of controlling an asset engaged in such matters.

    the byzantine events around mcgrath and mckeague can be examined with a microscope or a telescope either way it is an ugly sight whenever one or the other gets past the smoke and mirrors.

    one example of the byzantine nature of mcgrath and mckeague world.

    follow the sound of the guns is old advice ,in one direction it led the telescope to south africa where peter righton’s landlord (in later years)was sitting quietly in the garden near where the guns were in transit .what an odd byzantine moment.
    the telescope also focused on him in yugoslavia from the different vantage point of looking at who were the chums/aides of a naval chap. another odd byzantine moment perhaps.
    he was on the board of broadmoor among other activities of potential relevance.again potentially byzantine implications.

    the truth is composed of many small truths in the proper order but finding them and the order they should be in is a complex task requiring accurate detail and correct context picked from a web of confusion and concealment that spans decades and continents.

    • Sabre

      A good summary IMHO, It is very difficult ensuring secrecy.
      The truth is generally out there, however, try spotting it amongst that which is definitely released and distorted in order to provide “noise” not to mention the information and theories that are always generated by all manner of individuals and organisations often in utmost good faith.

      The Yorkshire Ripper case, I’m not aware of any conspiracy theory regarding this, The amount of intel generated was enormous, the police had to have the floor of the investigation HQ strengthened to cope with the Weight of the documentation, it was unmanageable.

      I believe Sutcliffe was spoken too by Police 5 times?
      The Geordie Tape helped to muddy the water and that was one idiot with a grudge against the police.

      Imagine a well resourced deliberate muddying of the water, at the end of the day Sutcliffe was caught by a cop that smelled something iffy about his behaviour when he was stopped in a car with a prostitute.

      Modern forensics and IT go some way to tackling the aforementioned problems, however, the same tools can be used to hinder as well as help.

  9. Funandgames

    According to Martin Dillon, McKeague’s proclivities were common knowledge within the circles in which he moved and indeed he lost a certain amount of credibility when other loyalists began to suspect that he was more interested in acquiring a harem of young men from among the Tartan Gangs than seriously conducting a “war” against the IRA. That he was a British Intelligence asset, there is no doubt, but that would not have been as a result of blackmail. Loyalists saw themselves as an arm of the British State, and if required to do the dirty work on behalf of the British state, well that only went to show that they were true servants of the crown.

    Wallace belonged to a black propaganda unit of British Army intelligence called IPU. As he says in his book, one of their schemes was to plant satanic paraphernalia in both republican and Loyalist areas, in the belief that the superstitious majority would turn against both sets of paramilitaries. Of course, it had no impact whatsoever.

    The inhabitants of Kincora Boys’ Home were between 14 and 16: not children, though clearly below the age of consent then and now and in a position of great vulnerability. McGrath and McKeague were pederasts, not paedophiles, as far as we know. Had they been abusing younger boys, and this was known in the wider community, they would have been in a good deal more trouble even then. However, although homosexual activity was illegal in NI, just as in the UK at an earlier period, a blind eye would have been turned to allegations of abuse of post-pubescents, especially when they were thought to be bad boys making up lies. I don’t think McGrath or McKeague were motivated to collude with British intelligence through fear of exposure. They truth is, they had very little to fear from any complaint by a 15 year old Borstal Boy.

    Whether there is any truth in the speculation that McKeague was responsible for the murder Brian of McDermott, we will never know, in my humble opinion. In the absence of any evidence linking him to this particular case, it will remain just that: speculation. As Sabre says, if you want to go down the NI rabbit-hole, you will soon find yourself in such a wonderland of competing stories, that in the end you will believe everything (no matter how much the stories contradict each other) or nothing at all.

  10. I have no reason to doubt that John McKeague may have been a brazen pederast, nor reason to doubt that Kincora and other boy’s homes in Eire were exploited as sources of victims by pedophilic care home workers and their friends/associates. I’m very skeptical of the idea that brazen pederasts who were also involved in plotting & carrying out horrific, sadistic acts of violence intended to terrorize their Catholic neighbors, could be blackmailed by anyone with regard to their pedophilic activity.

    The idea that intelligence services/agencies routinely blackmailed opposing “operatives” with knowledge of their pedophilic inclinations is widely accepted and stated as fact even by mainstream media today, but it is largely based on deliberate mis-reading of statements by cold-war era black ops and intelligence-gathering agents, very actively disseminated by a community of “activists” with a variety of motivations for wanting everyone else to believe in it. It is based on a false supposition – that being “outed” as an active pederast would be the worst possible disaster in anyone’s life. While that may BE COMING TRUE today, it is absolutely untrue in the context of the times when these blackmailings are alleged to have been initiated, circa 1960’s – 1980. Remember that it was even possible to be a PUBLIC advocate of eliminating all age of consent laws during that time, without disqualifying yourself from involvement in far-left (anarchist) or far-right (libertarian) political parties.

    In the case of McKeague…it appears that his despicable sexual interests were no big secret to anyone in the Loyalist extremist circles he was involved with, and although there seems evidence that he may have been shunned by some for this reason – as noted in the article, being a political fellow-traveler seems to have exempted people like McKeague from the brutal vigilante justice meted out to “ordinary” folk suspected of sexual deviancy. Given this context, it is an absurdity that McKeague would fear outing as a pederast MORE than being outed as a vicious terrorist murderer. I don’t believe it.

    And the intimations that the tragic death of this little McDermott boy somehow had “satanic” or “witchcraft” overtones is entirely gratuitous. I note that you didn’t publish the entirety of Colin Wallace’s note – I’d be interested to see what else he said about “our own investigations into allegations of witchcraft…” – ? In any case, at the time of this poor boy’s murder, and still in 1982, sources for “satanic or witchcraft” overtone information were almost entirely fraudulent, self-professed ex-satanists or ex-witches such as Mike Warnke, inherently incapable of accurately assessing such things. Tell me – what constitutes a satanic or witchcraft “overtone”, exactly?

    • Sabre

      For most of the 60’s homosexual activity between consenting males over 21 in private was illegal, the law changed in 1967, however rank and file loyalist and republican gunmen are not likely to have been the greatest fans of the “new enlightenment”.

      McKeague in common with all the militants republican and loyalist saw themselves as soldiers or freedom fighters there was never any question of being “outed as vicious murderers”.
      You make the mistake of transferring your point of view to others.

      The higher echelons of these organisations may well have decided that “the war” was more important than giving propaganda opportunities to “the enemy” or worse still demoralising their own “troops”

      Gerry Adams, despite believing that his brother raped his 5 year old niece,
      Didn’t report his brother to the police, they didn’t recognise any State Authority, he could have disciplined his brother, such a personal tragedy would have been difficult for anyone to deal with, however, one of the considerations would have been internal morale and denying the enemy propaganda victories.

      • The mistake, I believe, lies in interpolating a modern point of view about the serious nature of pederastic offences into historic circumstances that didn’t support that view.

        Simply as a matter of practical consequences, then. It seems that McKeague’s fellow Loyalists knew or suspected his interest in boys and, although that may have made him unpopular with some it wasn’t going to get him killed. Being uncovered as an informer for British Intelligence almost certainly would have. The legal consequences of being prosecuted for sexual crimes against minors could have been as little as a short stay in a psychiatric hospital or at worst a couple years imprisonment. The legal consequences of being prosecuted for directing or participating in murders (whether he would have seen them as “military actions” or not) could only have been much more severe. Therefore, I conclude that it is highly improbable the McKeague would have been blackmailed by threat of exposure as a pederast, into becoming an informer against other loyalists. (But, that he could have been recruited as an informer, under threat of being prosecuted for his role in the killing of innocents).

      • Sabre

        I have no idea as to your background, I suspect that you have little appreciation of the backgrounds of the likes of McKeague.

        The paramilitary types were all too aware of the possibility of torture, injury, detention and ultimately an extremely untimely death.

        Detention for “political and military” actions was par for the course , the time was spent excercising, drilling, taking part in political education etc.

        The only “legal consequences” we’re being off the streets temporarily.
        Escape was always on the cards, the community from which they came lionised them, their families were respected and provided for.

        Republicans and Loyalists, whatever the rest of us may think of them, believed in what they were doing, many of course had cause for regret with the passing of time.

        They willingly risked everything, they would rather get life for “murder” than 6 months for kiddy fiddling.

        You just don’t spend your time mixing a ton of fertilizer with gallons of diesel, following prison officers home with an AK-47 on the passenger seat if you’re worried about prison.

    • gw

      Wallace did specifically mention that scenes suggesting “black magic” were used by British Intelligence to deter people from certain areas. Aside from this I don’t really think it came up – Wallace was a “straight shooter” so to speak.

      • gw


        Salient points made although I think that attitudes differed between, for lack of a better description, the “libertarian” intelligentsia who pontificate on age of consent laws, and predominately working class religious communities in Northern Ireland.


  11. kelvin ballsacre

    johhny Adaire was killed by the IRA with brit government compliance
    that is a fact, remember johnny was protecting the protestants as the brit government refused to look after their own citizens

  12. sam markham

    as much as the government has encouraged homosexual activity across the board, the population still hate is for the aberration it is,
    Young boys will not be safe until the government realises its mistake

  13. Fear Feirsteach

    More here from the late Jack Holland, covering a deportation case in the States, for an Irish-American newspaper

  14. Sabre

    You can spend a lifetime trying to untangle this stuff, if and when you untangle it you will have succeeded in deceiving yourself .

    The State maintained back channels to all the political and armed factions, they also infiltrated all factions, they paid and or blackmailed informers/agents in all factions.

    The State militarily engaged the militant factions using the army and RUC,
    The State also deployed SAS, FRU and other below the radar units.

    The State would often plant info a mixture of truth and falsehood to get the factions to eliminate their own members for treachery.
    The State would ensure that opposing factions or rival factions on the “same side” got info on individuals that the State wanted rid of.

    At least two members of the PIRA nutting squad were State agents.
    Kincorra was but one sub strand of what went on.

  15. david lambert

    dont forget many in the IRA were entertained here including the top man and his brother.
    I was abused almost daily in my early life in care homes, and i think its why i am gay today and have also abused young boys. David Lambert
    Two years ago i sought treatment and i am hoping i will soon have a normal life
    david lambert DILA

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  17. Murdered by the INLA, right, cough…. err yes. cough cough

    • nuggy

      both INLA and the ira have often claimed responsibility for things they dident actually do.

      the best example of this is when they both claimed responsibility for the killing of aeiry nieve.