SF labels Mairia's rape claims 'political opposition'
Sinn Fein has told its senior figures not to talk to the media about Mairia Cahill's sex abuse allegations, which it describes as her "political opposition" to the party.
Gerry Adams will attempt to get away from the IRA rape controversy as he heads to New York today for a Sinn Fein fundraiser.
In a memo to elected representatives, a key ally of Mr Adams in Belfast tells them to contact the press office if approached by the media about Ms Cahill's allegations.
Ms Cahill says she was raped by an alleged IRA member - a claim which many in the party believe.
But senior party activist Bobby Storey describes her demands for justice as "political opposition to Sinn Fein".
"At a wider level, party activists should refrain from making any comment on social media sites or in any other way around the issue of the sexual abuse of Mairia Cahill. Such comments are both inappropriate and elements of the media will attempt to misuse or misinterpret any comment - as has already happened," he said.
"If you feel it necessary to comment on Mairia Cahill's political opposition to Sinn Fein, social media comments should only be made if they are measured and rigorously accurate," his memo, revealed in the Irish News newspaper, says.
A party spokesman said the memo was only circulated in Northern Ireland, not in the Republic.
Mr Storey is believed to have been the IRA's former head of intelligence and he is described in the North as a peace process 'enforcer' within the republican community.
Mr Adams will attend the party's annual dinner in NY tonight, which is expected to rake in up to US$350,000.
The upmarket event organised by 'Friends of Sinn Fein' takes place at the Sheraton Hotel in Manhattan tonight.
The Sinn Fein President and the party's finance spokesman Pearse Doherty will be the guests of honour at the event.
Sinn Fein is the only Irish political party that raises cash abroad and has raked in millions from its fundraising arms in the US, Australia, Canada, Germany and Britain. In its latest returns, the party declared earnings of US$334,710 (€259,310) for the first half of the year.