Thursday 13 December 2018

SF 'orchestrated' crisis in North as a distraction - Burton

Joan Burton
Joan Burton
Mary Lou McDonald at Leinster House yesterday. Photo: Tom Burke
Gerry Adams
Micheal Martin and Michael McGrath speaking to the media at Leinster House yesterday.Photo: Tom Burke

Niall O'Connor, Daniel McConnell and Paul Williams

MAIRIA Cahill has called for Sinn Fein and party leader Gerry Adams to publicly apologise to alleged abuse victim Paudie McGahon.

Ms Cahill was speaking this morning after the broadcast of a BBC spotlight programme during which Mr McGahon alleged he was raped by a senior IRA figure in Co Louth in the early 1990s.

She also called on Sinn Fein MP Francie Molloy to apologise to Mr McGahon, after a Twitter account purporting to be his described his abuse claims as ‘rubbish’.

Mr Molloy’s purported tweet said: “Another load of rubbish on spotlight tonight. Joint Indo bluesh.. production”

The Twitter account is listed on Mr Molloy's official website, however it has not been verified that the tweet was sent by him.

Speaking to Morning Ireland on Radio One, Ms Cahill said:

“I warned Sinn Fein at the time ... that when they said they weren’t covering up abuse that would invalidate victims and re-traumatise them, and cause other victims to come forward.

“I think it was much more difficult for him because he has seen how I have been treated in the aftermath. I believe his account entirely. Sinn Fein need to tell him they believe his account in its entirely and not cherry pick.

“The attacks on his character started before he even opened his mouth. The abuse towards me ratcheted up in the hours leading up to the programme.

She then called on the party, and specifically MP Francie Molloy, to apologise to Mr McGahon.

“I think Sinn Fein owes, and particularly France Molloy, owes that man an apology for his insensitive, crass and vile statement last night.”

Ms Cahill said that despite the abuse she has received, knowing she has helped one other abuse victim has made her decision to come forward worth while.

“I always said it would be worth it if it helped one other victim of abuse out there. And Paudie said it helped him.

“I think they need to stop denying the issue. There’s no point in Sinn Fein saying their members haven’t been involved in covering up abuse cases. We have the proof. They need to take that step and admit that it happened and it was wrong.”

She called on Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to apologise to both her and Mr McGahon.

Meanwhile, Tanaiste Joan Burton has accused Sinn Féin of orchestrating a crisis in Northern Ireland to distract from the latest damaging allegations of IRA sex abuse cover-ups.

Gerry Adams' party is reeling after Paudie McGahon's claims that he was abused by a senior IRA figure in Mr Adams' Louth constituency in the early 1990s and subjected to a 'kangaroo court' organised by a Sinn Féin representative in 2002.

Ms Burton said that it was "interesting" that the party's u-turn on welfare measures -which has left the Northern Assembly on the brink of collapse - coincided with the revelations in the Irish Independent and on BBC's 'Spotlight' programme.

"It's interesting that all this is happening just when the party's under pressure again with another 'Spotlight' programme," Ms Burton said.

She added that the republican movement has a "problem" in relation to sex abuse, specifically in relation to young people.

Similarly Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin claimed there was a "tendency" for Sinn Féin to find "fairly spectacular distractions" to combat negative news.

"We've seen that in recent times. I recall Gerry Adams's comments about unionism using a particular expletive and that was designed to get certain attention," Mr Martin said.

"We had antics in Dáil Éireann on another occasion in the aftermath of the Mairia Cahill affair..."

Mr Martin also alleged in the Dáil yesterday that Gerry Adams was the IRA's Chief of Staff.

The Irish Independent understands that a third alleged abuse victim, who is female, is considering going public with her experience at the hands of republicans in the coming days.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny has openly challenged Mr Adams over whether other sex abuse victims remain silenced.

"What is the big issue here is that another kangaroo court was operational in the early 2000s," he said.

In response to the onslaught of criticism Mr Adams said the treatment of Mr McGahon was a "matter of very, very deep regret for me".

Gardaí are now paying close attention to Mr McGahon's family amid fears that he could be targeted by the provisional movement. He had been warned that he would killed if he spoke out about the abuse which occurred at his family home when it was used as an IRA safe house.

Speaking to the Irish Independent last night he said he had no regrets about going public, despite having to move his wife and children out of Louth.

He also attacked Gerry Adams' performance in the Dáil, saying the Sinn Féin boss is "using weasel words to try and distance Sinn Féin from this".

Last night Belfast woman Mairia Cahill, who sent shockwaves through the republican movement when she told her story of abuse last November, said Sinn Féin had yet again put the party's reputation ahead of a child.

"Sinn Féin, rather than lying, should stop re-traumatising victims and admit this cover-up. Until they do this, they are still continuing to abuse the abused," she said.

"The truth has been half dragged kicking and screaming out of them. They tried to discredit me to frighten off others coming out. In this climate of fear created by them, I think Paudie has been doubly courageous to speak out and I hope he gets the justice he rightly deserves," she added.

The revelations have heaped pressure on the Sinn Féin leadership at a time when they are involved in a high-stakes game of politics north of the Border.

The Stormont House Agreement, signed in December, is in tatters after Sinn Féin withdrew support for welfare reform.

Irish Independent

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