Gardai now probe leaks about IRA sex abusers
Investigation launched following official complaint from Sinn Fein
Gardai have launched another investigation into media leaks on foot of an official complaint from Sinn Fein about how information about alleged IRA abusers, passed on by the party, came to be reported in the media, the Sunday Independent has learned.
It is understood that Sinn Fein made the formal complaint to the garda commissioner late last year.
Garda resources have now been deployed to investigate Sinn Fein's complaint. According to an informed source, Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan appointed a senior garda to the case some months ago and an investigation is now underway into how "certain information" was reported in the media.
The revelation follows the arrest last Thursday of a senior garda officer as part of a probe into alleged leaks to the media. The officer, who is the most senior garda ever to be arrested as part of a criminal investigation, was later released without charge.
Sinn Fein lodged its complaint about alleged garda leaks at a time when the party was under intense scrutiny over its handling of the Mairia Cahill case, and broader allegations that child sex abusers were shielded within the republican movement. Gerry Adams, the Sinn Fein leader, has denied his party covered up for abusers, appealed for information, and provided a list of names of alleged abusers that he received anonymously to gardai, some details of which were reported in the media.
The g arda child protection unit launched an investigation into the list of names passed on by Mr Adams, and other names given to it by Mairia Cahill and the Fine Gael TD, Regina Doherty. The unit is understood to be investigating more than 30 alleged IRA abusers.
The controversy over republican child abusers erupted when Ms Cahill told a BBC Northern Ireland documentary last October that she was raped by a senior member of the IRA when she was a teenager. She said her abuse was covered up by republicans and she was forced to confront her attacker in an internal IRA 'kangaroo court', after which her rapist was eventually told to leave the country.
Gerry Adams denied her claims that he had discussed the case with her. Ms Cahill's abuser later went on trial but was acquitted, as were those allegedly involved in the kangaroo court.
Cahill has since received an apology from Northern Ireland's prosecution service after an inquiry identified "shortfalls" and found that she and two other victims were "let down" by prosecutors. A second victim, Paudie McGahon, has since told how he too was raped by an IRA man, and when he complained to his Sinn Fein councillor, an IRA kangaroo court was held, at which he was offered the option of having his rapist shot or moved.
Sinn Fein has made several complaints to various different outlets over remarks made in the Dail, and in the press, about its alleged knowledge of child abusers within the republican movement.
The Sinn Fein TDs, Pearse Doherty and Mary Lou McDonald, successfully sued The Examiner newspaper over its coverage of the republican child-abuse scandal.
It was reported recently that the two TDs reached a confidential out-of-court settlement with the newspaper.
The party made a formal complaint to the Dail's disciplinary committee about Joan Burton, the Labour Party leader and Tanaiste, because she linked Sinn Fein to the cover up of sex abuse during a Dail debate. The party alleged the remarks were defamatory.
In March, Pearse Doherty said the party was taking legal advice over Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty's "scurrilous" allegations that an internal investigation was held into sexual abuse by republicans.
In a statement, An Garda Siochana said it "does not comment on correspondence between ourselves and third parties". Sinn Fein said it would "not comment on these matters" in response to questions submitted by the Sunday Independent.
In a statement to this newspaper earlier this year, the party said all cases of alleged abuse that Gerry Adams or the party is aware of have been reported to gardaí or the Police Service of Northern Ireland.