Friday, 18 July 2014

Who was in Tara?

Given the renewed media interest in the membership of Tara, it might be a good time to gather up what we know. Although, as the Blether Region reported yesterday, the Bel-Tel's Liam Clarke has implied that a meaningful percentage of Tara members were involved in the abuse of children, that is highly unlikely to be the case, since for most of the period in question the organisation was simply too large for that. As its Wikipedia entry confirms, "by 1974 Tara had an estimated 300–400 members, which was significantly less than the group had at their 1969 peak".

Among McGrath's more prominent colleagues in Tara were, according to Wikipedia:
Davy Payne is listed as "an associate". Whether John McKeague was a member of Tara is disputed, but since he was a paramilitary, a known friend of McGrath and an active abuser of boys, the distinction is perhaps academic.

One website lists Rev. Robert Bradford as a member. Since Tara was a legal organisation and Bradford a known British Israelite, that would be unsurprising. It would also lend credence to suggestions that Bradford was investigating Kincora (rather than an RVH corruption scandal) at the time of his death.

As the Blether Region recently reported, a journalist informed it some months ago that Nelson McCausland was a member. The fact that he was not mentioned as such in The Kincora Scandal can therefore be ascribed to his not yet having attained a high profile when the book was published in 1996.

Chris Moore also states that "Sir Knox Cunningham, Jim Molyneaux, Sir Reg Empey, Lord Laird, Ian Paisley and Nelson McCausland" were at one stage linked to McGrath, but without stating if any of them were members of Tara.

A more interesting question is perhaps who was in Ireland's Heritage LOL 1303, the much smaller private Orange lodge that McGrath founded. The group was known for its Irish-language banner, which earned it the nickname "the Fenian lodge". The banner was made by Tommy Robinson, with the Irish translated by the father of someone who is now a well-known Irish-language academic (in the event it emerged in a somewhat imperfect form). The family lived in Mountainview Drive, not far from Clifton Street Orange Hall, where Tara held its meetings.

The Kincora Scandal lists some of those in attendance at the lodge's last meeting, from which it is possible to reconstruct the following list of members.
  • William McGrath
  • Worthington McGrath, "Worshipful Master", McGrath's son, who is now a North Down businessman active in Ballynafeigh Walkers. As an aside, McGrath's other son, Harvey Andrew McGrath, is a former chairman of the Prudential and a supporter of integrated education; he was awarded an honorary doctorate by QUB in 2008.
  • Clifford Smyth
  • John McKeague
  • David Kerr, "Pastor", presumably the same David Kerr involved in the National Front, the Ulster Independence Movement, and Third Way
  • David Hanna
  • R. Stewart
It is important to stress here that no one is making any allegations relating to child sexual abuse about any of the living members of Tara listed here. Neither was it a proscribed organisation. Neither was it, corporately, engaged in violence.

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