Friday 22 March 2019

'It was cowardly and woeful' - abuse survivor Cahill rejects SF leader McDonald's apology

Mairia Cahill
Mairia Cahill

Philip Ryan and Shane Phelan

Máiría Cahill has rejected an apology from Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, challenging her party to explain its handling of child sex abuse allegations.

"I think Mary Lou's statement was cowardly and woeful, and that is me being kind to Mary Lou," Ms Cahill said.

Ms McDonald "unreservedly apologised" to Ms Cahill and two other women after a police ombudsman report found evidence suggesting the man accused of raping the former senator was suspended from Sinn Féin some time around 2000 as it was suspected he was abusing children.

The Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman also found the RUC received intelligence which suggested the Provisional IRA was investigating the child sex abuse accusations against Martin Morris. However, the suspicions about Mr Morris were never reported to the police by Sinn Féin.

Ms Cahill alleged she was interrogated by an IRA "kangaroo court" in 2000 - but the PSNI only began investigating Mr Morris 10 years later.

Ms McDonald said she "deeply regrets" the party did not have mandatory reporting procedures in place at the time of Ms Cahill's ordeal.

"I have no doubt that the three women at the heart of this report have been through an ordeal," she said.

"I want to commend their bravery, in particular the bravery of Máiría Cahill for waiving her anonymity," she added.

However, Ms Cahill did not accept the apology and challenged Ms McDonald to explain Sinn Féin's handling of the child sex abuse allegations.

"For me this did not go far enough," said Ms Cahill.

"She should also publicly admit I was subjected to an IRA investigation. She should go back to the drawing board and come back with a response to the main remaining questions."

Ms McDonald's statement did not respond to any questions surrounding the evidence suggesting Sinn Féin suspended Mr Morris over child abuse concerns or the failure of the party to bring these concerns to the police.

Fine Gael Minister Regina Doherty said: "The apology by Ms McDonald is contemptible and totally inadequate. What about the way she and other party members condescendingly and publicly dismissed Ms Cahill's long quest for the truth and justice? Sinn Féin has yet to admit the person Ms Cahill alleged abused her was a party member and IRA man and that the IRA investigated it but police were never alerted to the issue by Sinn Féin."

Ms Cahill has alleged she was raped by Mr Morris, a suspected IRA man, in 1997 and 1998, when she was 16.

He has always denied the allegations and was acquitted of rape when his trial collapsed in 2014.

The Ombudsman report found Ms Cahill was failed by the police handling of the investigation. It found an inconsistent approach to the investigation of some people suspected of IRA membership, but no evidence anyone was protected from prosecution.

PSNI Chief Constable George Hamilton offered an apology as he said Ms Cahill and two other women were failed by the police.

Ms Cahill, a grand-niece of prominent Belfast republican Joe Cahill, revealed in 2014 she had several meetings with then Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams about her abuse claims.

The meetings were said to have occurred in 2010. Mr Adams has insisted the party did not engage in any cover-up. He denied claims by Ms Cahill that she was subjected to an IRA "kangaroo court".

Irish Independent

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