Mairia Cahill, the raped woman at the centre of the sex abuse scandal which has convulsed Sinn Fein and the IRA, has said she is "extremely fearful" of returning to Belfast following a speech made yesterday by Gerry Adams.
Mairia Cahill, the raped woman at the centre of the sex abuse scandal which has convulsed Sinn Fein and the IRA, has said she is “extremely fearful” of returning to Belfast following a speech made yesterday by Gerry Adams.
The Sunday Independent has separately learned from security and republican sources that as many as 10 men were moved southwards across the Border following allegations of rape and abuse against boys and girls, at least one as young as 12. And last night the Fianna Fail leader, Michael Martin, said he has been contacted by another person who claims to have been a victim of abuse within the republican movement. The person does not want to go public but is understood to have reported it to gardai.
Yesterday, Ms Cahill accused the Sinn Fein President of “cowing down” to the IRA which, she said, “tells me he no longer has control over them — and that’s a very dangerous situation.”
She told the Sunday Independent that Mr Adams’s speech “confirms that not one member of Sinn Fein is prepared to face down the IRA and those Belfast members for the shameful way in which they have treated me as a victim of sexual abuse.”
She said: “These are scary individuals. They are not decent people and they have the weight of an armed movement and a political machine behind them.”
Ms Cahill said that if the online attacks on her last week were indicative of the way anger had been directed at her for lifting the lid on how the IRA treated sex abuse issues, “then I am extremely fearful of returning to Belfast.”
She said: “In his speech he has also failed to address that issue . . . he is continuing to cover for them.” Yesterday, Mr Martin also said Mr Adams’s speech left “Sinn Fein open to being asked if it is the case that the Belfast IRA still runs Sinn Fein’’. He said: “This is a question that Mr Adams and others, such as Mary Lou McDonald, must answer’’.
Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty also accused Ms McDonald yesterday of “backing the Belfast authority” and of “not being willing to be her own woman”.
In his speech yesterday, Mr Adams challenged the Taoiseach Enda Kenny to provide any such information he had to gardai and the PSNI.
Yesterday, a spokesman for Mr Kenny said: “The Taoiseach is fully aware of the law in this area and will act accordingly if required.”
The Sunday Independent understands that one man was moved South and escaped punishment by an IRA ‘court martial’ after he allegedly raped a 12-year-old girl in west Belfast. The man was subsequently appointed to a senior position within the ‘Southern Command’ and was responsible for organising and carrying out armed robberies, kidnappings and other forms of illegal fundraising for the IRA.
Following further allegations that this man abused children in the Republic, it is believed he was secretly moved out of Ireland to the Continent and then to the US where he is believed to have been given a new identity and helped to settle by IRA supporters unaware of the allegations against him.
There has been widespread condemnation of Mr Adams’s speech which was delivered, not in his County Louth constituency, but in the republican heartland of Belfast. The former Minister for Justice and Attorney General Michael McDowell in the Sunday Independent today, describes it as a “pathetic speech” which, he said, was a “cynical, threadbare and obvious attempt” by Mr Adams to avoid his personal issues. In the speech, the Sinn Fein President said that over the course of the past week Mairia Cahill had made “serious allegations” against him and named Sinn Fein members. “While I am very mindful of the trauma she has suffered, I and the others she has named reject those allegations,” he said.
He repeated that Sinn Fein had “not engaged in any cover-up” of abuse at any level of the party, an accusation which he described as a “vile slur”. He said those Sinn Fein members to whom Mairia Cahill had spoken have said that they believed that she had been a victim of abuse, and that she had suffered trauma. They assured him that they did all that they could to support her. “That is what I did also,” he claimed.
He claimed all the Sinn Fein members who had spoken to Mairia Cahill had “acted in good faith to support her”. He claimed: “They advised her to speak to her family, to seek counselling or to approach social services. Her uncle Joe Cahill at my request asked her to go to the RUC.”
Yesterday, Mairia Cahill’s father, Philip, a nephew of Joe Cahill, told the Sunday Independent: “He is making assertions that he told my Uncle Joe to tell his family to go to the police. That is absolutely ludicrous. Anyone who knows Joe Cahill — and he was my uncle, so I would imagine I knew him reasonably well — but anybody who knows him . . . to suggest that Joe Cahill would encourage anybody go to the RUC to report anything is laughable.”
And Ms Cahill told the Sunday Independent: “He hasn’t addressed the issue of the IRA investigation. He hasn’t admitted that I was brought into a room to face my abuser. He needs to do that. He is deflecting the issue . . . Not once has he refuted the claim that the IRA investigated my abuse or that I was forced to confront the abuser. He can’t refute it because he knows it to be true. So he should admit it.
“The issue that Sinn Fein has not engaged in any cover-up of abuse at any level of the party is disingenuous at best and a lie at worse. They are continuing to cover up on this issue by not admitting the full truth.”
In his speech, Mr Adams also sought to present sexual abuse as a “legacy issue” of the conflict in the North which, he claimed, the governments also had a responsibility to deal with. However, Ms Cahill has rounded on his assertion that her rape and the sexual abuse of others was such a “legacy issue”.
She said: “Sexual abuse is not a legacy issue because perpetrators will continue to abuse and the IRA has given them cover to do so. Gerry Adams has said that there is no way to verify IRA involvement because the IRA has left the stage. How then is Sinn Fein going to credibly deal with any issue in which the IRA were involved in in the past?”
Mr Adams referred to how the IRA had “acted in good faith” but were “not equipped” to deal with what he called “difficult matters”.
However, Ms Cahill said Gerry Adams had apologised publicly to every other victim except her. “He now needs to publicly apologise for the way in which his party has treated me in the last week and the way in which the IRA re-traumatised me by forcing an investigation into my sexual abuse,” she said.
Mr Adams also criticised Fine Gael and Fianna Fail, in particular, and the media — he cited the Independent Group — for “seizing upon” Ms Cahill’s allegations in “the most cynical, calculated and opportunistic” way. However, Ms Cahill said: “The Independent Group and the rest of the media, particularly the BBC Spotlight programme, gave me the voice that I was denied by Sinn Fein and the IRA over many, many years. I want to thank them for that.”
Yesterday, the Health Minister Leo Varadkar said in any other party the “men in grey suits” would be telling Mr Adams it was time to step down as leader.
I'm glad I did the BBC Spotlight programme. It was the right thing to do. My motivation in all of this was to share my experience of what happened to me, in order that other victims would finally get recognition for what happened to them.
Sinn Fein don't know what hit them. In addition to being brave, intelligent and articulate, Mairia Cahill is well-organised and a good strategist. Thick, brain-washed Shinners of course believe she's an MI5 stooge: clever ones know the awful truth that this is an able woman whose character has been strengthened by abuse and betrayal and who is fighting on her own terms. And Twitter is a battleground where so far she's routed the enemy.
The response of the Sinn Fein leadership to Mairia Cahill's allegations should come as no surprise. The same type of response was given by the Sinn Fein leadership to other evil crimes committed by its supporters after the rape of Mairia Cahill in 1997.
In the past five years, Gerry Adams has twice been publicly called to account for how he responded to allegations of sexual abuse, first by his niece, Aine, and in the past fortnight by Mairia Cahill. On Friday, the Taoiseach joined in, demanding that the Sinn Fein leader account for the sexual abusers within the IRA who were dispatched down south rather than turned over to the authorities. Yet he has always sought to place himself on the side of the abuse victim, criticising the culture of concealment and the need to accept responsibility. We look back on what Gerry Adams has had to say on the subject of sexual abuse over the years.
If you were the Catholic Church, you might be feeling a bit aggrieved. At a certain stage in the unfolding of the story of Mairia Cahill and the IRA, it was widely stated that there were deep similarities between the way that republicans dealt with issues of sex abuse, and the attitude of the Church in such situations.
A girl was raped, the prosecution of her case took an apparently absurd turn - yet to be explained. Gerry Adams's explanation of his behaviour isn't credible, Sinn Fein has chosen to respond to the crisis in the worst way possible.
Among the many strange aspects to the debate around Sinn Fein's handling of the Mairia Cahill case is that the party might be in danger of losing its 'feminist credentials.' The point was typified in a column in the Irish Independent last week by Martina Devlin, which was much Tweeted by our new media feminists.
The five stages of grief was a psychological model developed by American psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross to explain the process by which people cope with a traumatic loss. In the past week, the response of Sinn Fein to the ongoing crisis around the Mairia Cahill story has followed the same pattern.