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Sunday 16 December 2018

Exiled IRA child abusers 'likely to have raped again'

Cliona Saidlear from Rape Crisis Network Ireland condemned Sinn Fein for its ongoing treatment of Maria Cahill
Cliona Saidlear from Rape Crisis Network Ireland condemned Sinn Fein for its ongoing treatment of Maria Cahill

Mark O'Regan

Child abusers expelled by the Provisional IRA are "highly likely" to have gone on to rape an unknown number of victims south of the border.

It is claimed the IRA is now providing gardai with names, approximate ages, and last-known addresses, of six men accused of sex crimes spanning a 30-year period.

But many other victims could have been abused by these predators over this three-decade-long time span, according to Cliona Saidlear from Rape Crisis Network Ireland.

The organisation's acting director pointed out that paedophiles tend to be repeat offenders - and it is unlikely that their abuse patterns came to an end when they were forced to move to the Republic by the IRA many years ago.

"There is a high recidivism rate for many types of sexual violence - including child abusers," she said.

"If a person has abused power in this way, then it becomes part of a risk assessment, that they will re-offend.

"This was the case with paedophile priests who moved parishes.

"Once we know that someone is abusing in a certain way, it is vital their subsequent behaviour is effectively monitored," added Ms Saidlear.

It is reported that the Provisional IRA is providing the gardai, through an intermediary, with the names of certain alleged abusers and rapists.

This would mark a radical new departure for a paramilitary organisation which traditionally has had a confrontational and non co-operative approach to security forces on both sides of the Border.

It is the first time the organisation has proffered information to gardai since it was founded in 1969.

Joe Reilly, the Meath Sinn Fein councillor, who is the party's national child protection officer, is understood to be a facilitator in the process.

Repeated attempts to contact Mr Reilly proved unsuccessful.

Dignity

A garda spokesman said "all such allegations will be thoroughly investigated" once relevant details are supplied to the force.

It has been suggested a letter written by a senior IRA member - who said he would not deal directly with the gardai - provided details regarding the history of six alleged sex abusers.

They were 'found guilty' of the allegations made against them, and five of the six were 'court-martialled ' and expelled from the IRA.

Two of the suspects may have moved to counties Clare and Tipperary and two of the names on the list are dead.

A sixth man believed to be known to the security forces as an IRA assassin, was ordered to leave Dublin following the rape of a teenage girl on the southside of the city, following an internal investigation.

Ms Saidlear also condemned Sinn Fein for its ongoing treatment of Mairia Cahill, saying the party's actions have done little to encourage other survivors to come forward.

"Irish society, across the whole island, has been having a conversation about abusers, and the protection of abusers, by institutions for the past 10 to 15 years," she told the Irish Independent.

"The signal we need to be giving survivors who come forward is that they will be treated with dignity and respect, and that they will be listened to.

"I'm not sure the party's treatment of Mairia gives us that signal.

"She was put through a very difficult time. The onus is on authority figures to give the signal that survivors will be listened to," added the director of Rape Crisis Network Ireland.

She reiterated it was incumbent on those in positions of authority to ensure survivors who do come forward are treated with "dignity and respect."

"There has to be a very clear signal to survivors who have been through processes similar to those described by Mairia Cahill, that they can have confidence in the system, and that they and their loved ones will be safe."

Irish Independent

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