Saturday 16 December 2017

Ex-IRA chief to be extradited on child sex abuse charges

Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

A former commander of the Provisional IRA is to be extradited from Spain to face charges in Ireland relating to the sexual abuse of a child.

Spanish police arrested the former Provo chief last night on foot of an extradition warrant issued by the Irish authorities.

It is understood he faces four charges relating to the sexual assault of the girl in Dublin more than two decades ago.

Spain's National Police confirmed the man was detained by officers in Alicante on the Costa Brava.

The one-time IRA commander and former senior Sinn Féin activist, who moved abroad a number of years ago, has been under investigation by gardaí in Dublin for almost two years.

The investigation was launched when the woman made a formal complaint to gardaí alleging she had been abused as a minor by a powerful figure in the IRA.

Detectives took detailed statements from both the woman and members of her family.

Last year, two senior officers flew to the former IRA commander's home on the Continent after he agreed to be interviewed by them. He was questioned over several hours and is believed to have denied the claims.

He has not been active in Sinn Féin for many years. But he was one of the top IRA men in Dublin at the time the abuse is alleged to have occurred and has republican connections.

As a top IRA commander during the 1990s, he was responsible for sanctioning all IRA operations carried out on this side of the border.

Gardaí believe the man was a member of the IRA's so-called southern command in the mid-1990s, when Det Gda Jerry McCabe was shot dead during an aborted raid on a postal van at Adare, Co Limerick, in 1996. It was alleged at the time that the killing had been carried out by a rogue unit which did not have sanction for the shooting. Four members of the unit were subsequently convicted of killing Det Gda McCabe.

Shortly after the shooting, the suspect left the country and moved abroad, where he has lived for almost two decades.

The ex-IRA man's arrest and extradition will come as a serious embarrassment to Sinn Féin on the eve of polling day by focusing unwelcome attention on alleged IRA child abusers.

Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has faced a storm of criticism over accusations that the party covered up child abusers and paedophiles in its ranks.

Senator Mairia Cahill has publicly claimed she was subjected to an IRA kangaroo court after she was raped as a teenager. And Paudie McGahon claimed he was also raped by an IRA man and subjected to an IRA kangaroo court after he complained to a Sinn Féin councillor.

Gardaí are now investigating more than 30 alleged IRA abusers.

It is understood that the man now facing extradition was already under investigation by gardaí when Ms Cahill first highlighted the alleged cover-up of IRA child abusers on BBC's 'Spotlight' programme.

The 'Sunday Independent' first reported on the ongoing investigation last year.

Irish Independent

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