Saturday 21 September 2019

Mairia Cahill calls for meeting with SF leadership

Mairia Cahill will be at Leinster House for a photocall this week, along with Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Mairia Cahill will be at Leinster House for a photocall this week, along with Mary Lou McDonald. Photo: Jonathan Porter/PressEye
Kevin Doyle

Kevin Doyle

IRA abuse victim Mairia Cahill wants a private meeting with the leadership of Sinn Fein on Tuesday to get an apology for the way the party treated her after she revealed her story.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald last week repeated an apology for "failures" within the party's protocols, which meant members did not refer her case to police.

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However, Ms Cahill said she wants the Dublin Central TD to acknowledge that she was badly treated by the party and members knew of an IRA investigation into her claims.

"I'm sick of Mary Lou treating me with contempt and she should meet me next Tuesday," the SDLP councillor said.

The two women will be in Leinster House for a photocall involving all current and former female members of the Oireachtas. Ms Cahill was a Labour Party senator prior to the last election.

She told the Sunday Independent there is "no excuse" for a meeting not to take place.

Ms Cahill wrote to the Sinn Fein leader in September after a report by the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland found that a police investigation failed her.

However, Ms McDonald has now said that she sees no need to reply to that correspondence.

"The letter I received, I don't think required a response. Mairia set out her view of things, set out her stall.

"I've apologised. I did so without reservation and completely for the failures within Sinn Fein at the time," the TD said.

She added that when Sinn Fein members first heard of the alleged abuse the information "ought to have been passed directly on to the authorities".

"Unfortunately at the time, as I set out in my apology, we didn't have a system of mandatory reporting. We now do," Ms McDonald said, adding that "a lot of heartache" could have been avoided.

In response, Ms Cahill said that she would have expected a reply as a "common courtesy".

"I was in a very distressed state when I wrote to her," she said.

Ms Cahill noted that Ms McDonald was raising issues around the treatment of Garda whistleblower Maurice McCabe who was "treated disgracefully".

"She can wax lyrical about one whistleblower while trying to bury another."

Ms McDonald said she is satisfied with her own handling of Ms Cahill's case.

"I am happy for you to go and check the record of the Dail and scrutinise every word that I uttered on the record of the Oireachtas.

"I stand over every single word that I said on that occasion," she said.

Ms Cahill was plunged into the media spotlight in 2010 after she waived her right to anonymity to speak out in a newspaper interview, making allegations she had been raped by a suspected IRA member when she was a teenager in 1997.

Sunday Independent

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