Taoiseach casts doubts over a cross-border abuse inquiry

Mairia Cahill

Niall O'Connor

TAOISEACH Enda Kenny has expressed caution over the prospect of setting up a cross- border inquiry into the IRA sex abuse scandal.

Mr Kenny warned that such an inquiry could prove difficult due to the differences between the two legal systems in the North and the Republic.

Speaking to reporters during his annual Christmas briefing, Mr Kenny said he favours the carrying out of a comprehensive "scoping exercise" on foot of claims by Belfast woman Mairia Cahill that she was abused by an IRA member and later subjected to a kangaroo court.

It has been alleged that the IRA moved a number of abusers from the North to the Republic.

Mr Kenny said that discussions are ongoing between Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and her Northern counterpart, David Ford, as to what approach should be taken.

"I've discussed this with the Minister for Justice. You're talking about two different jurisdictions here, therefore, two different legal systems.

"I think it might be appropriate perhaps to have a really good scoping exercise as to what numbers might be involved here," Mr Kenny said.

"And Mairia Cahill herself was very much in favour of this. So, without jumping head long into trying to put together a legal constitutional compellability inquiry, I think we should look at that first."

Speaking to the Irish Independent last night, Ms Cahill called on Sinn Fein to produce any information it has on IRA sex abuse cases.

Ms Cahill welcomed the comments by the Taoiseach, adding that such a step would help determine the scale of the issue.

"It is very early days and information about how the IRA moved abusers around this country is still coming through so this initial step means the scale will begin to be determined and steps can be taken to protect children on this island," she said.