Tuesday 25 June 2019

Fitzgerald condemns 'horrendous acts' in SF to hide sex abuse to keep abuse secret

By Niall O'Connor and John Downing

JUSTICE Minister Frances Fitzgerald has condemned what she described as "horrendous" acts of collusion by Sinn Fein figures who attempted to cover up sexual abuse cases.

Ms Fitzgerald last night became the latest government figure to express disgust at Sinn Fein's treatment of abuse victim Mairia Cahill who was allegedly raped by a senior IRA figure when she was just 16 years old.

Ms Cahill's decision to publicise her allegations of sexual abuse has plunged Sinn Fein into crisis and heaped huge pressure on party leader Gerry Adams. Along with accusing Mr Adams and his party of a cover-up, Ms Cahill claimed that the SF President was recruited into the terrorist organisation by her grandfather. She further called on the TD to step down.

COLLUSION

"I think he is repeatedly traumatising me, he is repeatedly traumatising other victims," Ms Cahill told 'Newstalk Breakfast'.

Senior government figures, including Enda Kenny and Frances Fitzgerald, yesterday strongly condemned Sinn Fein's handling of the Cahill affair.

Ms Fitzgerald told the Herald: "I believe that it is horrendous that individuals colluded and kept cases hidden from the authorities by covering up abuse.

"This meant that victims were denied the supports and therapy that they needed and also meant that there was no proper investigation into those who offended or were at risk of re-offending."

Mr Kenny also waded strongly into the row and signalled that there are "more cases to follow" of alleged sex crimes by figures within the republican movement.

"I think there's been a despicable, an utterly despicable conduct by Sinn Fein to discredit Mairia Cahill over the last period," he told reporters.

"Is this another part of an attempt to discredit a young woman whose telling a story from the inside and my understanding is that there is more to follow," he added.

Meanwhile, deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald finally admitted yesterday that the IRA was involved in the staging 'kangaroo courts' to investigate sexual abuse claims.

But the Dublin Central TD launched an extraordinary attack on Ms Cahill, accusing her of casting a slur on Sinn Fein.

"It is most unfair, it is most unjust to cast a slur such as that against Sinn Fein," Ms McDonald said.

hnews@herald.ie

Herald

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