Wednesday 24 July 2019

Call for probe into handling of 100 abuse cases by Sinn Féin

Gerry Adams (centre) with Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness
Gerry Adams (centre) with Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald and Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness

Daniel McConnell and John Downing

Sinn Féin's handling of up to 100 cases of sex abuse allegations by the Provos should be examined by a Government commission of inquiry, the Dáil has heard.

Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said several Catholic dioceses, including Dublin and Cloyne, had faced such inquiries which proved effective and helpful.

Under-fire Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams admitted that the name of Mr McGahon's alleged rapist was on a list of names given to him anonymously last November.

During a tough Dáil debate on the latest allegations of rape by a senior IRA man, brought to light by Louth man Paudie McGahon, the Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald again defended her party leader.

Ms McDonald said a North-South joint government forum, to allow sex abuse victims to come forward and tell their stories and seek remedies, would be the best way to proceed.

This had been proposed last year by the North's deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness.

For the Government, Education Minister, Jan O'Sullivan accused Sinn Fein of trying to put the onus on victims of sex abuse to resolve matters.

"You put the onus on victims and others. It's about time you told us what people around you knew," the minister said.

Ms O'Sullivan accused Sinn Féin of issuing a "general mantra" that people should come forward and help the authorities, including the Gardaí and PSNI.

"It's all very well to fire missiles around this chamber and avoid the responsibility of your own party," the minister told Ms McDonald. She added that people needed to know how republican "kangaroo courts" worked.

The Sinn Féin deputy leader said she knew her party's responsibilities and she and other party representatives routinely brought forward cases of abuse to the authorities.

"What we cannot do and we will not do is carry out the functions of An Garda Síochána or the PSNI in the North," Ms McDonald said.

Ms O'Sullivan said the Fianna Fáil proposal for a commission of inquiry had merit and would be considered. But the minister said this would take time to set up and to get results and it was vital for Sinn Féin to come forward now and tell what they know.

Last night, Mr Adams refuted claims that he had held back information.

"I also refute the claim that Sinn Féin is holding back information. There is no rationale or logic to this. I want all of these issues dealt with. If individuals have information they should bring it forward," he said.

Mr Adams admitted in a statement that the name of Mr McGahon's alleged rapist was on the list of names he received anonymously last November, which in turn he says he passed on to An Garda Síochána.

"Last November, I asked anyone with information regarding abuse to bring that forward and I offered to pass that information on to the relevant authorities," he said.

"I received a number of names anonymously. While I was unaware of the name of Paudie McGahon's alleged abuser, it now turns out his name was on that list," Mr Adams added.

Mr Adams said he strongly refuted claims made in the Dáil that Sinn Féin had investigated cases of sexual abuse.

"This is unture. It would be totally inappropriate and could jeopardise a successful prosecution," Mr Adams said.

Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty has said that she is led to believe that in 2006, there was an internal inquiry conducted by four senior members of Sinn Féin, where over 40 different cases of allegations of both physical and sexual abuse by republicans were investigated.

She said Mr Adams had acknowledged in the Dáil that Sinn Féin/IRA members did investigate republican abusers.

Irish Independent

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