Sunday 18 August 2019

McDonald declines to say if abuse case hit Sinn Féin support

Poor election result: Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Poor election result: Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald. Picture: Gerry Mooney
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Mary Lou McDonald has refused to say if she believes Sinn Féin's election campaign was damaged by rape victim Paudie McGahon's allegations that the party sought to cover up his abuse.

Mr McGahon and a second victim were raped as a child by alleged IRA member Seamus Marley, who has been jailed for seven years.

In an interview with the Irish Independent, Mr McGahon (44) waived his anonymity to speak out about what he believes was an attempt to protect his attacker by people associated with Sinn Féin and the IRA.

He claims a 'kangaroo court' was set up when the victims went to the party for help in 2002.

Sinn Féin has denied being involved in a cover-up, insisting that the party's advice to the victims had been to go report the abuse to the police.

Ms McDonald's party suffered a bruising local and European elections.

It lost 78 seats in councils around the country, almost half the total it won five years ago.

Speaking to RTÉ Radio, Ms McDonald brushed aside questions on whether or not Mr McGahon's allegations had hurt her party at the polls.

She said: "When it comes to instances of rape or abuse the last and the least of my worries is the political or electoral fallout or consequences."

Ms McDonald said the only thing that matters in such circumstances is that "allegations are thoroughly investigated by the right authorities and that victims are supported and perpetrators are caught and put behind bars".

She added that Mr McGahon went through an "awful experience" but considering the electoral impact of such abuse allegations is "not something that enters my calculation".

Ms McDonald was also asked about the controversy that occurred when she marched in the New York St Patrick's Day parade behind a banner that read "England Get Out of Ireland".

She said she regretted the level of controversy it caused, and added: "Would I walk behind it again, given the furore it caused? I'm not sure."

Irish Independent

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