Gerry's ex-IRA pal is new SF boss in North

Chairman who handled Mairia Cahill sex scandal steps down

ABUSE VICTIM: Mairia Cahill. Photo: Frank McGrath

Jim Cusack

The ex-IRA boss who told Sinn Fein representatives what to say on the Mairia Cahill sex-abuse scandal has stepped down from his party position.

Bobby Storey is believed to have quit his position as Sinn Fein's northern chairman last month.

Sinn Fein confirmed to local media last week that Storey had been replaced by Martin 'Duckster' Lynch, Gerry Adams's former chauffeur and bodyguard and another ex-IRA member.

Lynch served 10 years' imprisonment in 1992 for having a Russian-manufactured rocket launcher, warheads, a US-manufactured Armalite rifle and Colt pistol and 121 rounds of ammunition.

In November 2014, Storey sent out the memo to all Sinn Fein elected representatives in the Republic on how to respond to Mairia Cahill's revelations about the cover-up over her and other victims' rape and abuse by IRA men.

The Storey memo appeared to sharply contradict Sinn Fein's repeated claim that it does not receive its orders from the 'overarching' IRA army council.

Not one Sinn Fein representative veered from the IRA boss Storey's directions on how they should respond to the rape and abuse issue.

In the memo, Storey directed all the party's reps, from town councillors to TDs and MEPs, saying: "Party activists should refrain from making any comment on social media sites or in any other way around the issue of the sexual abuse of Mairia Cahill."

He said "elements of the media" would "attempt to misuse or misinterpret any comment", describing Ms Cahill's campaign for justice as "political opposition to Sinn Fein".

Cahill described Storey's diktat to Sinn Fein representatives over the cover-up of her abuse as a child by a Belfast IRA man, who was subsequently moved out of the city by the organisation, as "obscene".

In one of his few public appearances, Storey briefly addressed a rally in support of Gerry Adams in May 2014 after Adams had been arrested for questioning about the murder and disappearance of widowed mother-of-10 Jean McConville in 1972. She was subsequently shot dead and buried in an unmarked grave at a secret location.

Storey said: "We have a message for the British government, for the Irish Government, for the cabal that is out there: we ain't gone away, you know", echoing Adams's words at another Belfast rally after the 1996 ceasefire had been announced.

But last September, after the IRA murdered Kevin McGuigan (53) in the fall-out over money in the organisation, Storey went public again in a press conference with Gerry Adams, retracting his earlier sentiments and saying the IRA was no longer in existence and "has flew away like a butterfly".

Storey was subsequently arrested and questioned about the McGuigan murder but released without charge.

He grew up in north Belfast and served a total of 25 years' imprisonment for IRA offences.

He was named in court in October 1998 as the IRA's director of intelligence during the trial of IRA spy Rose Marie McLaughlin, who worked as a primary school teacher in Bangor, Co Down and elicited information from children in her care whose parents were police officers.

Storey was arrested following the discovery of McLaughlin's spying operation but was not charged with any offence.

His successor, 'Duckster' Lynch is in his mid-50s and lives in a fortified house near the MI motorway in west Belfast. He is well known in Sinn Fein circles in Belfast but largely unheard of among the southern party membership.

He has appeared in public debates and other events in west Belfast but not played any significant role in the party beyond that.

Sinn Fein confirmed Lynch's selection to the position of northern chairman in a statement to the Belfast office of the Sunday World, adding that Storey had "taken up another officer role".

The party has had control of west Belfast since Gerry Adams was first elected as MP in the mid-1980s.

The constituency continues to top the league in the UK for the worst unemployment record and social conditions.