Sunday 21 January 2018

I'm tired of Adams's nonsense, and I've challenged the coward to a debate

The Sinn Fein leader doesn't like being questioned about his party's handling of her sex-abuse case

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams - The Sinn Fein leader doesn’t like being questioned about his party’s handling of her sex-abuse case, writes Mairia Cahill (REUTERS/Darren Staples)
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams - The Sinn Fein leader doesn’t like being questioned about his party’s handling of her sex-abuse case, writes Mairia Cahill (REUTERS/Darren Staples)

Mairia Cahill

A 19-year-old is sitting in the Taoiseach's office, deeply traumatised because a newspaper has just reported an internal investigation into her sexual abuse at the hands of a senior party member as a child. The Taoiseach is worried about what damage the story leaking might do to Fine Gael and the press office have been briefed to reply with a "no comment" should the media call. The Taoiseach insists on a one-on-one meeting, and the young woman isn't able to bring in anyone for support.

He has spoken to the high- ranking officials within the party and there is concern that she may go to the gardai. If she does, there is a danger that she might tell them about the year-long questioning of her about her abuse. The Taoiseach's officials are anxious about how this will look to the general public should the story break.

The senior Fine Gael member, who abused not one but three children, had also married into the young woman's family. "That'll do it", he thinks to himself. "We'll state it was her uncle, and nothing to do with Fine Gael and the media will go away, and sure, we'll say no more about it."

Ludicrous, isn't it? Of course, the above is an entirely fictitious account, and neither Fine Gael nor the Taoiseach have conducted themselves in this manner. But, if they did, you wouldn't expect them to remain in position very long. Labour would rightly pull the plug on the Coalition, and the opposition benches would be screaming from the rooftops. No one could be accused of political footballing, because the natural reaction would be to hold a political party to account for its actions.

Wouldn't it?

Not if you're Sinn Fein, it seems. They don't like being placed under scrutiny about their party's handling of my sexual abuse, and Gerry Adams appears to have difficulty with why he is being asked about IRA involvement at all. He has accused other politicians of using the issue of sexual abuse for political gain, and has complained of media bias. He insinuates that his actions, and the issue of how the republican movement dealt with sexual abuse, should not be called into question.

Last Saturday, on RTE radio, I listened to him refer to myself as "that woman", while simultaneously saying that Sinn Fein had sympathy for victims of abuse. Later at a press conference he told journalists "incidentally, the man who abused her was her uncle". He offered no reason why he was stating this, other than to point out abuse happens within families.

The man who abused me was married into my extended family for a short period of time, however, it is erroneous of Gerry Adams to try and frame my abuse as a family matter.

Martin Morris had served time on an IRA wing in prison, and had a fearsome reputation in Belfast as a member of the IRA's 'civil administration' unit. Little wonder that his victims, including myself, were afraid to tell anyone what was happening. Had my abuser not been a member of the IRA, they would never have forced an investigation into my abuse.

Had the high-profile nature of that investigation not reached the pages of a Sunday newspaper in 2000, Gerry Adams would not have requested that I meet with him. Had all of that not happened, Morris's three victims would have been able to go to the police much earlier. One of the IRA investigation meetings took place in Gerry Adams's own personal office. Other meetings happened in the Sinn Fein Centre also.

That is the reason why Gerry Adams is being placed under scrutiny; because he, and they, involved themselves in my experience of sexual abuse at the hands of an IRA member. Some of those people who investigated my abuse are current Sinn Fein activists. One of them, when facing charges in connection with my case, used the Sinn Fein Headquarters in Belfast as his bail address. How can anyone conceivably expect people not to question Sinn Fein on the matter?

Last week, tired of Gerry Adams's nonsense I appeared on Newstalk and challenged him to debate with me live on air. His spokesperson refused the offer, saying that Adams had answered all questions fully in relation to my case. I subsequently directly sent him and his party press office seven questions about his and others' roles in my case. He has yet to answer any of them.

That reeks of cowardice to me. After spending seven months trying to discredit me, he ran away from being placed under scrutiny by the person at the centre of the issue, despite his party stating "the interests of abuse victims are paramount". If he had nothing to hide, he would have accepted the offer. The Sinn Fein President cannot be accused of media underexposure. I have no conclusion about his refusal to speak to me on air other than it is due to a fear of being exposed.

Sunday Independent

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