Tuesday 26 September 2017

Gardai to question IRA sex abusers shielded by Provos

Regina Doherty
Regina Doherty
Mairia Cahill

Jim Cusack and Maeve Sheehan

Detectives will, this week, begin questioning suspected IRA child abusers who were allegedly shielded by the republican movement.

The garda unit responsible for investigating child abuse has been working through a list of alleged IRA abusers, including one handed over by the TD Regina Doherty and another by Sinn Fein's child protection officer late last year.

The Garda Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault unit has identified the people it intends to question. However, sources say the information given by Sinn Fein has not progressed the investigation.

Detectives have made initial inquiries seeking access to the Provisional IRA's internal files relating to an inquiry into allegations against at least 20 republicans in 2006. So far, there has been no response.

The Sunday Independent has also learned that Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald is looking at setting up a joint North/South investigation into the IRA's movement of child sex abusers.

A spokesman for the minister confirmed she has held several discussions with her counterpart in the North and that officials on both sides of the Border are working on it.

He told the Sunday Independent: "The Garda Siochana is currently investigating information relating to this issue which they have received from a number of people in recent weeks, Inevitably, those garda investigations are at an early stage.

"However, they are a priority given the child protection concerns and the seriousness of the alleged offences involved."

The garda investigation comes in the wake of Mairia Cahill's shocking claims that she was raped by an IRA man and subjected to an IRA 'kangaroo court' when she was a teenager. She accused Sinn Fein of attempting to cover up the crime, which the party has denied.

Various politicians took up her case, including Taoiseach Enda Kenny who told the Dail the IRA expelled republican sex abusers from the North to the South. He challenged Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams to identify them.

Regina Doherty, a Fine Gael TD, gave gardai nine cases in which she claimed the IRA "facilitated" sex abusers to move across the Border to the Republic. She said the alleged abuse took place across the North, and the alleged abusers were moved to Dublin, Louth and Donegal.

Sinn Fein's child protection officer also handed in details of alleged abusers that Gerry Adams claimed were given to him anonymously but the information was said by garda sources to be sketchy.

Today in the Sunday Independent, IRA rape victim Ms Cahill accuses Mr Adams of giving republican internet trolls a "licence" to continue abusing her, with "disgusting" messages and images being posted since she spoke out against the IRA cover-up in her case.

A Sinn Fein spokesperson said: "There is no place for internet trolling and abuse of any individual, including Mairia Cahill. Anybody engaging in this behaviour is not doing so in the name of Sinn Fein."

The spokesperson added that "Sinn Fein has and will continue to cooperate fully with any investigation to safeguard children and to bring abusers to justice."

Meanwhile, the Sunday Independent has also learned that there are growing concerns in the republican heartland of south Armagh that a paedophile rapist was "protected" by his IRA connections for 15 years.

Derek Martin (48) from Crossmaglen was sentenced to 20 years in prison last December after he was convicted of two counts of rape, seven counts of indecent assault and three counts of gross indecency at Newry Crown Court.

Local sources told the Sunday Independent that during the decade and a half Martin used his IRA connections as a threat to silence his victims. His trial heard that Martin's abuse was well known in south Armagh, yet he remained untouched for 15 years until his victims finally went forward and gave evidence to the PSNI in 2013.

His trial heard from the three women witnesses that Martin had subjected them to a reign of terror from 1991 to 2006. One was eight when the abuse began. Another victim gave evidence that he raped her when she was 18 and her infant child was sleeping in the same room.

Martin was unrepentant in court and shouted: "You will pay for this" at his three weeping victims as he was led away from the dock.

Sunday Independent

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