Kincora: The man who wants to lift the lid off one of the darkest secrets in Ulster’s past
You know, if my parents were told all this was going on, they would never have believed it, Colin Wallace told me. What the 71-year-old former Ballymena Academy pupil is referring to is a half-world, lurking just below the surface of official Ulster life, with its rules and its proprieties.
This was a place where an intelligence agency might turn a blind eye to child abuse to get information from the perpetrators, where the government might launch black propaganda assaults against politicians and would plot the downfall of Ian Paisley as readily as Gerry Adams.
Wallace himself wouldn’t have believed it initially, but he has spent the past 40 years trying to lift the lid on the intelligence scandals which he says swept through Northern Ireland in the early 1970s. He has also spent it trying to clear his name after being wrongfully dismissed from his job in the Ministry of Defence and then wrongfully convicted of manslaughter.
The former officer is now negotiating to be allowed to tell all – and recover official documents from the 1970s to prove what he says – at the Historical and Institutional Abuse Inquiry, conducted by Anthony Hart QC.
Sir Anthony hopes to reach the Kincora Boys’ Home sex abuse scandal, over which Wallace alleges a long-running cover-up, by the end of the year.
But is he a fantasist, a Walter Mitty character, as some former police and intelligence officers claim?
Colin John Wallace comes from a traditional unionist and service family from Randalstown in Co Antrim. The son of a member of the RAF who died of his war wounds in 1946, Mr Wallace himself was an “Army-barmy” teenager.
He served in the Territorial Army, the ‘B’ Specials and the Irish Guards and was seconded to the New Zealand SAS.
He was commissioned into the UDR (the locally recruited regiment of the British Army) with the rank of captain.
Wallace was trained as a psychological warfare expert and then appointed to the job of Army Press officer. That was his overt role, but he also worked for the secretive Information Policy Unit, which attempted to control politicians and paramilitaries by the use of propaganda.
Peter Broderick, head of Army information services in 1973, told the journalist Paul Foot how Wallace had “taken no leave for six years and worked 80 hours a week. He was relied on because he had a knowledge of the Irish situation which was unique in headquarters and surpassed that even of most of the intelligence branch.