Tuesday 21 May 2019

A simple question: just what was your recent 'apology' for?

An open letter to Mary Lou McDonald from the Minister for Social Protection Regina Doherty

Mary Lou McDonald Photo: Getty Images
Mary Lou McDonald Photo: Getty Images

Regina Doherty

Dear Mary Lou, I'm sure, like me, you welcome the post-Weinstein ''#MeToo'' environment where victims now feel emboldened to tell their stories and speak out - and in doing so give voice and heart to other victims everywhere.

I am sure you would agree with me that, if one thing comes out of all the recent revelations and the resultant outpouring of experiences, it's better that we build a world where women are believed and listened to.

Yet, just over four years ago, a young woman gave up her right of anonymity by disclosing her rape on the BBC Spotlight programme. She detailed how at 16 years of age she was raped repeatedly by a republican IRA activist. She also detailed how allegations against the same man had been asserted by two younger girls.

Despite initially denying all claims, Gerry Adams finally admitted that "decent IRA volunteers", who he acknowledged were "ill-equipped to deal with the very serious issues around sexual abuse, did accede to the demands to take action against rapists and child abusers".

He admitted "the IRA on occasion shot alleged sex offenders or expelled them".

Despite his admission, Adams first tried to sidestep the question of whether or not the IRA carried out any investigations into Mairia Cahill's rapes. He called all claims of kangaroo courts "slurs against Sinn Fein".

He did accept that there were IRA investigations, but refused to admit it in Mairia Cahill's case.

You stood firm behind Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein/IRA in denying that any cover-up, or investigation into Mairia Cahill's rapes took place.

Today, you are the newly anointed leader of Sinn Fein and the ball is firmly now in your court.

Both the DPP and the chief constable in Northern Ireland have apologised to Ms Cahill and the other two young girls for failings which ultimately collapsed any chance they had of seeing justice carried out.

Both the DPP and the PSNI accept and will implement ALL the recommendations of the Ombudsman's report. This includes a new investigation into the intelligence they hold of an IRA investigation into Mairia Cahill's rapes.

A few weeks ago, you accepted the Ombudsman report into the allegations made by Mairia Cahill.

But you now say that you know nothing of what happened in the past - your party didn't keep records apparently.

And you're not on your own. Michelle O'Neill, your deputy leader, feels it's not her place to say whether she believes Mairia Cahill.

So, a simple question.

At this stage, will you finally acknowledge that Sinn Fein/IRA activists investigated and were aware of Maria Cahill's rape as shown by the evidence held by the PSNI?

If not, what was your recent ''apology'' for?

In the prevailing environment of growing opposition to misogyny and abuse of women, is Sinn Fein still content to be ''ourselves alone'' rather than ''me too''?

Regina Doherty, TD

Sunday Independent

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