A west Belfast IRA man was placed in a very senior position in the organisation’s ‘Southern Command’ based in Munster, despite an allegation that he raped a 12-year-old girl.
Republican and security sources believe up to 11 members of the IRA were “moved”, mostly from Northern Ireland to the Republic, but in one case, at least, in the opposite direction.
Former senior republican sources say Gerry Adams’s assertion last week that the IRA “shot” suspected rapists or paedophiles was not true. There was no known instance of this, they said.
Republican sources say the IRA man accused of raping the 12-year-old in Belfast before being moved South was “court martialed” by the IRA and sentenced to be shot in the knees. But this was commuted and the man eventually left Ireland, it is believed, with the help of the IRA.
After the man was moved out of Belfast following the allegation he was appointed to a very senior position as second in charge of “operations” for raising finance through robberies and kidnappings in the Republic in the early 1980s.
He came to the attention of the garda as number two to the then head of the IRA’s finance operations Tom Cahill, brother of Joe Cahill and also grand uncle to rape victim Mairia Cahill.
The “2IC” in the finance department, based in Munster, was also from the same Ballymurphy estate, in west Belfast, where Ms Cahill’s family lived. The identity of his victim remained a secret and the matter was never reported to police north or south.
He was also placed by an IRA informant at a meeting of the IRA leadership including, the informant claimed, Gerry Adams, to discuss finances for running the terror campaign in Northern Ireland and Britain.
Senior republican sources confirmed to the Sunday Independent last week that the matter was known about within the IRA leadership and no action was ever taken against the man despite a court martial.
Gardai arrested the man in relation to a serious incident involving the IRA and he was imprisoned. The rape allegation was not known to gardai at the time but later came to their attention, by which time the man had served his time and had been moved out of Ireland by the IRA.
He and a number of others in the organisation against whom rape allegations were made are believed to have been spirited out of Ireland, through Canada, and into the United States.
Details of three alleged rapists who were moved out of Northern Ireland to the Republic and subsequently to the United States were given to the Sunday Independent last week. In all instances, senior figures within the IRA were aware of the allegations, according to well-placed sources.
The Sunday Independent is also aware from republican sources in Belfast of another senior figure in the republican movement — who has a public profile — also moved South after he was alleged to have raped a young IRA woman who had just been released from prison.
Female IRA prisoners in Armagh jail who learnt about the rape at a party thrown to celebrate the young woman’s release, asked that a complaint be raised. A man who went to the Sinn Fein offices on the Falls Road to make the complaint was told to return to the office for a subsequent meeting. When he did so he was taken out to an alleyway and beaten by an IRA squad armed with iron bars and hurley sticks and the matter was suppressed.
The alleged rapist remained in good standing in the organisation though he left west Belfast and settled in the Republic.
Senior gardai who were engaged in the battle against the IRA during the Troubles said last week that they were unaware of any consistent flow of suspected IRA sex offenders from Northern Ireland. They said they would have picked up on this from their sources. They said they were unaware of the allegation about the senior figure who had raped the young ex-prisoner.
They said they were “flat out” at the time in their operations to defeat the IRA and it could well have escaped their attention if there was a pattern of known rapists being secreted across the Border.
Taoiseach Enda Kenny last week accused the IRA and Sinn Fein of spiriting sex offenders across the Border and mentioned Donegal and Louth.
This may be a reference to the facts elicited during the trial of Gerry Adams’s brother, Liam, that he was moved out of west Belfast, first to Donegal and then Dundalk, after it emerged he had raped his daughter.
Last week the Irish Independent highlighted the story of two Co Louth brothers who say they were sexually abused by an IRA man who was taken across the Border from the North. Republican sources last week confirmed this was known about at a senior level in the organisation and never acted on. While there was a practice of moving suspected rapists or paedophiles out of the IRA, former senior figures say nothing was done to support victims.