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Thursday 19 October 2017

Gardai quiz ex-IRA boss on sex abuse

Detectives fly to Continent to interview former Provo chief

Mairia Cahill
Mairia Cahill
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

Gardai have interviewed a former IRA commander now living abroad about claims that he sexually abused a child at a time when he was one of the most senior Provos in Dublin.

Two detectives flew to the Continent a fortnight ago to meet the one-time IRA chief by arrangement, almost a year after they launched an investigation into the allegations, understood to date back to the 1990s.

He was questioned over several hours and is believed to have denied the claims. His interview will be a key part of the investigation file that will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions this week or next.

The investigation into the former Provo boss has the potential to embarrass Sinn Fein.

Although he is no longer active in Sinn Fein circles, he was an extremely well-connected republican throughout the Troubles and was a senior IRA commander at the time the alleged abuse occurred. He has been living abroad for almost two decades and was at one time suspected of becoming involved in smuggling.

The abuse allegations first came to light last year when a woman made a formal complaint to gardai she had been abused as a minor by a powerful figure in the IRA.

The case has been under investigation by detectives at Mountjoy Garda Station since then.

The interview with the former IRA man was one of the last blocks of the investigation, which is now virtually complete.

In a statement to the Sunday Independent, the Garda Press Office said: "There is currently an investigation under way in Dublin's north inner city... As this investigation is currently ongoing it would not be appropriate to provide a spokesperson at this time."

Sinn Fein has been fighting off accusations that it covered up for child abusers in its ranks ever since Mairia Cahill publicly claimed she was subjected to an IRA kangaroo court after she was raped as a teenager.

As a result of her campaign, the governments here and in the North are considering setting up a cross-border investigation into the movement of alleged abusers.

Separately, the Garda's Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Unit has been examining claims that around 30 alleged IRA sex offenders could be living south of the Border.

Ms Cahill turned the spotlight on Sinn Fein when she told a BBC documentary that she was silenced by the IRA, and subjected to an internal inquiry. She said she later met Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader, and discussed her rape ordeal. Mr Adams denied the claims. He has since admitted that the IRA shot or expelled sex abusers, but said he has no knowledge of those who were moved.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny challenged him to name them. Sinn Fein promised to co-operate fully with any investigation to safeguard children and to bring abusers to justice.

Sunday Independent

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