Sunday 16 June 2019

Inquiry needed into claim SF and IRA sought to cover up 'horrendous abuse': minister

Praised for his courage: Victim Paudie McGahon waived his anonymity to speak out to the Irish Independent about claims the sex abuse was covered up. Photo: Owen Breslin
Praised for his courage: Victim Paudie McGahon waived his anonymity to speak out to the Irish Independent about claims the sex abuse was covered up. Photo: Owen Breslin

Cormac McQuinn and Paul Williams

A senior government minister has suggested a commission of inquiry is needed to look into claims Sinn Féin and the IRA sought to cover up sex abuse with a 'kangaroo court'.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said she fully supports victim Paudie McGahon, who has called for an investigation into the alleged cover-up.

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Mr McGahon was raped by alleged IRA man Seamus Marley and he claims that Sinn Féin and the IRA tried to prevent the crime being reported to gardaí.

Marley was recently jailed for seven years for abusing Mr McGahon and another boy two decades ago. Mr McGahon (44) waived his anonymity to speak out in an Irish Independent interview.

He told how an IRA kangaroo court was convened in 2002 after the victims first brought their abuse allegations to the attention of Louth Sinn Féin councillor Pearse McGeough.

Both Mr McGeough and Sinn Féin have insisted both victims were advised to go to gardaí at the time.

Mr McGeough - who is a candidate in the local elections - has previously denied that he was involved in the kangaroo court.

Last night, Mr McGahon claimed that Sinn Féin "knew all about our allegations against Marley in 2002".

He said: "The IRA told us that they believed our allegations, but still didn't bother to tip off the authorities that he was a risk to children."

Mr McGahon said this "just makes no sense at all and they have a lot of questions to answer about that".

He claimed that Sinn Féin representatives "are guilty of outrageous hypocrisy when they accuse the Church of wrongdoing and covering up for paedophiles when they refuse to confront their own skeletons".

Ms Doherty praised Mr McGahon for the courage he has displayed.

She claimed Sinn Féin has "done nothing to assist victims of IRA atrocities and crimes to get answers".

She said she believes Mr McGahon should be provided with "full and frank information" on any attempts to cover up what she said was "this horrendous sex abuse".

She suggested a commission of inquiry into the issue would be a way to do this and added: "An independent probe is the only way to uncover the truth."

Labour senator Ged Nash said that Mr McGahon's treatment by Sinn Féin was "unforgivable".

He claimed that Sinn Féin had "put the party before the victim" and said that no amount of "carefully crafted spin and empty statements" from the party will "undo the damage done".

IRA abuse victim Máiría Cahill said Mr McGeough should "absolutely not be running in any type of election".

She accused him of failing to report Marley to gardaí himself when the victims approached him in 2002.

Ms Cahill referred to Mr McGeough's statement from the weekend.

Mr McGeough said on Sunday that the party's advice at the time was to bring the allegations of abuse to gardaí and added that "as adults that decision was for the victims".

Ms Cahill argued that regardless of the victims being adults at the time, Mr McGeough had a "moral responsibility" to report the abuse to gardaí.

Ms Cahill was raped as a teenager by an alleged IRA man and was later forced to face her abuser at a kangaroo court.

The PSNI brought a case against the alleged rapist, but it subsequently collapsed.

Neither Sinn Féin nor Mr McGeough responded to the criticism last night.

At the weekend, a Sinn Féin spokesperson commended the victims in the Marley case for their courage in bringing the abuser to justice.

A statement said: "The abuser is now in jail, where he should be. We hope the victims and their families get the closure they deserve. Sinn Féin's advice was to bring the allegations of abuse to gardaí."

Mr McGeough said on Sunday the testimony of the victims was harrowing and he commended them for pursuing the matter.

Irish Independent

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