Adams forced to admit IRA interference in sex cases
Gerry Adams has been forced to admit the IRA carried out kangaroo court investigations into sex abuse allegations and punished sex offenders.
The Sinn Fein president's shifting position has come in the wake of Mairia Cahill's claim of a cover-up of her rape by an IRA member when she was just 16-years-old.
His comments are his first admission of IRA involvement in sex abuse cases. Mr Adams claims there is "no corporate way" of verifying if an investigation took place into Ms Cahill's claims because the IRA has been disbanded. But he does admit there was widespread IRA "policing" in Northern Ireland, particularly in Nationalist areas, and admits these activities included punishing petty criminals, car thieves, burglars and drug dealers.
"The IRA, inevitably also made mistakes. Despite the high standards and decency of the vast majority of IRA volunteers, IRA personnel were singularly ill-equipped to deal with these matters. This included very sensitive areas such as responding to demands to take action against rapists and child abusers. The IRA on occasion shot alleged sex offenders or expelled them," he said.
Mr Adams says the punishments may have been "expedient" but they were "not appropriate".
He said there was also "particularly in the first two decades of the conflict, a more brutal form of rough justice".
"Victims were left without the necessary social service support and abusers without supervision. It ultimately failed victims and the community alike. That is a matter of profound regret for me, and many other republicans," he said.
"But these actions were of their time, and reflected not only a community at war, but also an attitude within Ireland, which did not then understand or know as we now do, how deeply embedded abuse is in our society."
He said this was all done in the absence of a civic police service, which disconnected alienated Northern Ireland communities from the support of social services.
"These communities policed themselves."
He said it took time for a new and innovative justice system to evolve.
He added: "While I refute completely Mairia's allegations against myself and Sinn Fein, it does raise the significant issue of how allegations of abuse, had been handled in the past by republicans."
He said the IRA has "long since left the scene" so there is "no corporate way of verifying" Ms Cahill's claims that the IRA investigated the allegations.
Read more: Adams on the run from Mairia's brave stance
He said anyone with information about child abuse, including Ms Cahill, should come forward to authorities.
But Ms Cahill says she discussed her sexual abuse allegations with Mr Adams between 2000 and 2006.
Mr Adams admits he met Ms Cahill but claimed they did not discuss her sexual abuse claims.
She says she is "appalled" at Mr Adams's claim he never spoke to her about the allegations.
Ms Cahill says that in 1997, she underwent a 12-month cycle of sexual abuse, including rape, by a suspected member of the IRA.
After the alleged abuse ended, she says she was summoned to a meeting with the IRA. Ms Cahill says the IRA questioned her repeatedly, often several nights a week, for months about the abuse allegations.
After more than six months of questioning Ms Cahill says in early 2000, she was brought face-to-face with her alleged abuser in a kangaroo court session that was supposed to determine the truth.
She said she was silenced from reporting the allegation that an IRA figure raped her to the police.
Ms Cahill later went to the police and a case was brought against the alleged rapist and those said to have been involved in the IRA inquiry.
She later withdrew her evidence and all charges were dropped and the accused rapist was acquitted.
Mr Adams says he cooperated with the investigation by the PSNI into the alleged rape.