Last Saturday nobody knew who I was. Now I've let loose the pain that I hid for 23 years
After making the decision to go public over my rape ordeal, a huge burden has been lifted, writes Paudie McGahon
A week ago today I was a nobody, just another anonymous face in the crowd. It was the way I liked it. But something that I had buried for 23 years was eating me up inside and was about to finally boil over.
I didn't know if I would be scalded and scarred in the process.
A week earlier I made the life-changing decision to go public and tell the world what happened to me - first in the Irish Independent and then on the BBC 'Spotlight' Programme.
I originally had an interview where I was to be an unidentified shadow. An actor was to be used to dub over my thick Louth brogue in case anyone recognised it.
But then, after much soul-searching and many hours of discussions with my loyal wife, Renata, I said the only way I would be listened to was to show my face to the world.
I agonised over the effect it would have on my life and the life of my family, especially the children.
I am lucky to have a very strong and supportive wife who has kept me sane through all the dark days, including the one where I was ushered into the room where I was raped, to be quizzed by shadowy men from the IRA.
Last Sunday, we left our home in Ardee and started off on a journey to a destination where I had never been before.
In a way we were a bit like refugees trying to escape the inevitable backlash that would come.
I was terrified and my stomach was doing somersaults, but I knew that it was the only thing I could do to salvage my sanity and seek justice.
Like Mairia Cahill before me, I was all too aware that I was taking on a powerful monster with limitless resources and a record of burying anyone who has ever tried to expose the truth at the centre of its rotten heart.
Sinn Féin and the IRA are one entity; a cross between the mafia and a cult. So a few sad childhood rape victims would be easily swatted away and silenced.
It has one leader, Gerry Adams, who has remained untouched in that position for well over 30 years, unlike any other democratic political organisation. And no one dares question the leader who is looked on as God.
I had no way of knowing that I would receive such extraordinary support.
I want to sincerely thank everyone, family, friends, neighbours and people I have never met, for their support and kindness over this past week.
To you all I say that you have given me my voice and hopefully a voice for the many other victims who I pray will now come forward.
I started this journey not just for my own sense of justice, but to hold a hand out to the many other victims who are living the same nightmare that I have lived.
Growing up in a staunchly republican family, I was always aware that 'The Movement' came first.
The republican culture prefers to cover up the most awful crimes just so it can achieve power and nothing, or no one, will stand in its way.
It is no different to the shooting dead of innocent people who were perceived to be a threat to the organisation during their so-called war. People should never forget this.
A year before I was raped by an IRA volunteer, on the other side of my home county Louth, his so-called comrades shot dead an innocent man called Thomas Oliver on the Cooley Peninsula.
For all I know, my attacker could have been involved in this killing.
People should not forget either Paul Quinn, who was beaten to death by members of Sinn Féin and the IRA just because he stood up to bullies.
Or the brutal death suffered by Robert McCartney in a Belfast pub.
The great republican family ran his brave sisters out of town for speaking up and ultimately bullied them into silence.
It didn't matter that they had been invited twice to the White House by the world's most powerful man.
These are just a few random examples of the Provos' perverse use of power.
When my attacker, who is from republican royalty in Belfast, told me I would be murdered if I ever opened my mouth, I believed him.
I was 17 years old and I was terrified. When I described Sinn Féin as a cross between the mafia and a cult I was doing so from a lifetime of experience.
After a week of frantic activity and a lot of noise, Gerry Adams and his cronies have raised many more questions than answers.
How can Adams say he didn't know about the kangaroo court in 2002? He admitted eventually that he knew the identity of my attacker.
Why would Sinn Féin particularly want to hide this kangaroo court?
I found it absolutely disgusting to hear Mary Lou McDonald playing down the party's failure to report this crime by claiming that their abuse policy only referred to Sinn Féin party members.
I was involved in the movement long enough to know that all IRA members had to be members of the Sinn Féin party. So straight away that puts a lie to her claims.
This is a strictly disciplined, militaristic party that centres on the personality of their leader Gerry Adams. Nothing of any consequence goes on without his approval or misses his ears.
Sinn Féin say that they believe me because how could anyone make up such an awful story?
In the same breath they dodge the issue of undermining the rule of law in this country when the IRA used their own form of justice.
I was given the clear impression that this was never to be spoken about and kept under wraps.
How could Adams not know this.
They try to make a liar of me by saying "if" the kangaroo took place it would have been "wrong".
They have carefully tried to avoid any mention of the kangaroo court in their attempts to spin their way out of this controversy.
Adams and Arthur Morgan have been clutching a letter they sent to me in April 2009 which advised me to go the police.
This was another slap in my face at the time and they were washing their hands of me.
The letter does not say, however, that they had discouraged me because they claimed it would affect the recovery of another victim who was abused when he was much younger than me.
In the process, a paedophile was free to roam around and probably even groom and target the children of other Republicans.
Sinn Féin's cronies have even suggested that I did this for money. There is no amount of money that can pay you to go through what I have gone through.
When the economic crash hit I lost my business, our family home and nearly lost my self-respect.
I have been unemployed for the past six years and live in a council house, struggling to rear my children on the dole.
But I am not moaning or looking for sympathy. This is just my life and we are a very happy family.
There are those who have been trying to undermine and isolate me on Facebook and Twitter, like cowards sniping from their keyboards and iPhones.
Francie Molloy, the senior Sinn Féin MP in the North, summed up the feeling of his comrades when he described my story as "a load of rubbish".
He can keep his apology.
If I have achieved anything over the past week it is that others will see that they no longer have to remain silent and alone with their demons.
And I repeat the comment I made on behalf of all the victims of IRA abuse. Tiocfaidh ár lá - our day of justice WILL come.