How I was raped by an IRA man and faced a kangaroo court
Paudie McGahon (40) has decided to speak out about his alleged rape and claims Sinn Féin helped cover it up, writes Paul Williams
A MAN who alleges he was raped as a teenager by a member of the IRA and that Sinn Féin helped to cover up the abuse has decided to go public with his story - despite being warned that his life could be in danger.
Paudie McGahon (40) claims he was attacked by a well-known IRA volunteer in his family home, in Co Louth, in the early 1990s when it was being used as a safe house for on-the-run terrorists.
The alleged abuser - a member of a prominent Belfast republican family - warned his 17-year-old victim that he would be murdered if he ever spoke of the incident.
Mr McGahon says that in 2002 he was subjected to an IRA kangaroo court, which was arranged after he told a Sinn Féin county councillor about the attack.
In an exclusive interview, Mr McGahon told the Irish Independent: "I was raped in my own home by a member of the republican movement when I was a child and then they tried to cover it up.
"The man who attacked me had been hiding in our home and when he was finished, he said: 'Listen to me, if you ever open your mouth about this to anybody you'll be found on a border road'."
A major Garda investigation was launched last year after the unemployed father-of-three reported the rape and alleged subsequent cover-up.
Detectives are investigating two potential criminal offences - sexual assault and an attempt to pervert the course of justice.
Last night, Mr McGahon confirmed that he and a number of other witnesses - including another victim - have given gardaí statements naming their attacker and those allegedly responsible for organising the kangaroo court.
"The cover-up was from the top to the bottom of the organisation and involved both Sinn Féin and the IRA," he claimed.
Mr McGahon said he decided to go public with his allegations following the revelations by Belfast woman Mairia Cahill, which mirrored what he had experienced.
"When I read the details of the kangaroo court Mairia Cahill faced I couldn't believe how similar they were to my own experience," he said. He has recorded an interview for tonight's BBC 'Spotlight' programme, which first broadcast Ms Cahill's disturbing claims of being raped and the subsequent cover-up.
In the interview with reporter Jennifer O'Leary he claims:
Louth Sinn Féin councillor Pearse McGeough invited him and another victim before a kangaroo court in 2002.
The 'hearing' was chaired by prominent Belfast Sinn Fein figure Padraic Wilson, who was also central to the cover-up claims by Mairia Cahill cases.
Deliberate efforts were made by Sinn Féin representatives to "discourage" him from reporting it to gardaí, even though it was claimed they offered to bring him to the police.
Following the kangaroo court in 2002, another senior IRA member in Louth warned that if he went to the media or gardaí he would be "found dead on a back road".
Mr McGahon grew up in a staunchly republican home, which was regularly raided by the Garda Special Branch because it was known as a safe house.
"Before this incident, Pearse McGeough, who was a close friend of the family, said that it was probably time for me to be 'trained up' which I took to mean that I should become an IRA volunteer, but I didn't want to," Mr McGahon said.
He claims he first told Cllr McGeough about the abuse in 2002 - 10 years after the original incident. "I then got a phone call from Pearse McGeough inviting me and my wife to our [old] family home," he claims.
"When we got there he [McGeough] ushered me and another man up the stairs into a room where a number of men were waiting to interview us.
"It was clear that we were meeting IRA top brass but the only one I can identify is Padraic Wilson. The whole thing was organised by Pearse McGeough," he said.
The rape victim claims that he and another man were interviewed by the kangaroo court for over an hour.
He further alleges that he was again contacted by Cllr McGeough three days later and invited to attend another meeting with the Provo court, which was again chaired by Padraic Wilson.
Mr McGahon will be shown on television tonight saying that he was told the IRA member had admitted sexually abusing a number of other boys and was in "custody".
He says that he and another man were then given three options: to have their abuser shot dead; beaten up; or deported. He said he opted to have the man forced to leave the country.
He has also alleged that the IRA offered the services of an "in-house" psychologist to give him and other victims counselling.
"When I did approach them in 2009, Sinn Féin denied any knowledge of the offer or the so-called investigation," he told the Irish Independent.
"The one thing I took from that kangaroo court was that that was the end of the matter and there was no way that I had an option to go to the gardaí," he added.
"People need to realise that this happened to me in 2002 in the Irish Republic, four years after the Good Friday Agreement, which proves that the republican movement has no respect for the law of this country."
Both Pearse McGeough and Padraic Wilson have denied involvement in any cover-up.
In a statement, the Louth county councillor says he offered to bring Mr McGahon and another alleged victim to the gardaí to make a complaint.
"I am aware that a formal complaint has now been made and a Garda investigation is under way. I hope that the investigation continues, that justice is served and the victims are supported," Cllr McGeough said.
Former Sinn Fein TD Arthur Morgan has said he was informed of a "historical case of sexual abuse" but did not know the identity of the abuser. He said he had advised the victim to go to gardaí.
Mr McGahon last night appealed to "other victims and families who were part of the network of safe houses used by the IRA to come forward and expose the truth Sinn Féin trying to bury."
"I am taking this step of going public because I am a father myself and I believe that the sexual abuse of children should not be allowed to be covered up by a political organisation."
He also challenged the Sinn Fein president and Louth TD Gerry Adams to debate the party's alleged involvement in covering up alleged sex scandals.
"My experience and the experiences of people like Mairia Cahill shows why Sinn Féin can never be allowed to get into power in this country," Mr McGahon said.
"If they cannot tell the truth to the people and cover up something as serious as sexual abuse of under-age children then they can not be trusted with anything else."
Mairia Cahill found herself in the eye of the storm last October, when reporter Jennifer O'Leary first told her story on the BBC 'Spotlight' programme.
Senior figures in Sinn Féin, including Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald, were heavily criticised for their negative reaction to Ms Cahill's claims, while at the same time demanding support for other sex abuse victims.
Ms Cahill has accused the republican movement of doing everything it can to undermine her allegations and damage her reputation.
The 'Spotlight' programme airs tonight on BBC NI at 10.45pm.