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Sinn Feins TDs were on phones during debate – Mairia Cahill

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Mairia Cahill arriving at Leinster House earlier this week. Photo: Tom Burke

Mairia Cahill arriving at Leinster House earlier this week. Photo: Tom Burke

Mairia Cahill arriving at Leinster House earlier this week. Photo: Tom Burke

Sinn Fein TDs were totally “disrespectful” to victims and their families during a highly-charged Dail debate on IRA sex abuse, Mairia Cahill has claimed.

The Belfast woman told the Herald that 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.

“The only party that behaved shamefully was Sinn Fein.

“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.”

Ms Cahill 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”.

“We don’t know who these men are. We don’t know what they’ve done since they arrived amongst us in their banishment but we need to know,” Mr Kenny added.

The Belfast woman, who was raped by an alleged IRA member in 1997 aged just 16, 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.”

Inside the Dail chamber, Sinn Fein came under robust criticism for the party’s handling of the Cahill case, as well as their alleged cover-up of child sexual abuse. Meath East TD Regina Doherty revealed that she is to hand over the names of nine alleged sex abusers suspected of being moved to the Republic by the IRA.

During a powerful speech by the backbencher, Ms Doherty said she felt “too afraid” to read the names on the floor of the Dail but will provide the information to her local sergeant tomorrow.

Ms Doherty used Dail privilege to ask Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams if one man, Martin Morris, was given cash and a car to “help him on his way” out of the North in July 2000. The issue of alleged abusers being moved South dominated the debate. Tanaiste Joan Burton said Sinn Fein repeatedly criticised the Irish State for facilitating a cover-up of sexual abuse of the Catholic Church.

Betrayal

She recalled Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald describing the actions of the Catholic Church as a “gross betrayal of generations of children” and calling for the publishment for those responsible.

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“I fully agree with Deputy McDonald’s sentiments and I ask her to apply those same standards to Sinn Fein and the IRA,” Ms Burton.

Sinn Fein TDs present during the debate were called upon to come forward with any information they may have on alleged child sex abuse. Party president Gerry Adams said the IRA investigated rape allegations and then found Sinn Fein being accused of a “cover-up”.

He criticised Independent News and Media coverage, accused the Taoiseach of abusing his office and said all the other parties were interested in gaining advantage for the next general election.

The Louth TD also said he and his family “deeply reject the continuous taunts and offensive commentary” about what he described as a  “deeply traumatic episode in our family life”.

hnews@herald.ie


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