Sinn Fein’s Mary Lou McDonald has denied she “smirked” at Mairia Cahill at Leinster House.
The party's deputy leader said she smiled at the Belfast woman when they came face to face at the Dail.
However she refuted Ms Cahill’s claims she smirked, and apologies if her smile was taken as a smirk.
“I have endeavoured and I believe I have conducted myself throughout all of this public commentary and debate in a manner that has been consistent with my own position and public record on issues regarding issues of abuse, and in a way they is respectful to all concerned,”
“There was nothing to smirk about and it is not in my nature, it is not in my character, to smirk at people or to any way try to belittle a very serious topic," she said.
"And I think, in fairness, even my greatest critics at least would concede that."
The Belfast woman, who was raped by an alleged IRA member in 1997 aged just 16, was present in the visitors’ gallery as Taoiseach Enda Kenny told the Dail that women and children in the Republic have been preyed on for years by the IRA’s “undesirables and exiles”.
She claimed Sinn Fein TDs were totally “disrespectful” to victims and their families during the highly-charged Dail debate on IRA sex abuse.
Ms Cahill accused deputies in Gerry Adams’ party were “smirking and texting on their mobile phones” while the movement of sex abusers by the IRA was being discussed.
She also alleged Ms McDonald smirked at her.
“The only party that behaved shamefully was Sinn Fein,” said Ms Cahill.
“I saw some of their TDs smirking and texting on their mobile phones during a debate on child sexual abuse and a subsequent cover-up. It is within them to be responsible human beings.”
It was claimed Ms Cahill also became embroiled in an exchange of words with Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald on the grounds of Leinster House. Witnesses told the Herald that Ms Cahill said she hoped the truth would be told during the debate, to which Ms McDonald replied: “Mairia, I always tell the truth.”
Mairia Cahill had chosen her seat in the public gallery with care. She placed herself directly opposite Gerry Adams, from where she could follow unimpeded his every move and utterance. And for the duration of the time that she spent in that seat, her eyes rarely strayed from him.