The Argus

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Adams in eye of another storm

Oh Gerry, oh Gerry. Why oh why must it be so?

Once more Gerry Adams is the eye of a storm.

How many times has this been the case since he first declared his candidancy for the Louth constituency in the 2011 General Election?

First off he faced questions over his republican past and whether he was ever a member of the IRA. That is a question he expects and is well skilled at answering, retorting that he was never amember of the IRA but equally has never distanced himself from the IRA.

He has faced questions over his alleged involvement in the kidnap, disappearance and murder of Jean McConville. His disagreement with former IRA members such as the late Brendan Hughes who stated that he was connected with her disappearance. He has always vehemently denied any involvement in this matter.

He then faced questions over what he knew and when he knew about the sexual abuse of his niece Aine by his brother Liam.

Now this week the Sinn Fein President is confronted by the brave stance of Mairia Cahill who was sexually abused and raped by a senior member of the IRA and has come forward to speak out about her experience at the hands of Sinn Fein and the IRA.

Sinn Fein elected members, north and south of the border spent days refuting the events as stated by Ms Cahill, but faced with her unyielding determination and bravery, the party and Gerry Adams rowed back at the weekend and admitted that the IRA did in fact hold kangaroo court investigations into sex abuse allegations and punished sex offenders.

That such proceedings took place is no surprise as the knee cappings and beatings handed out to car thieves, drug dealers and petty criminals throughout the Troubles show the IRA 'policed' their patch with vicious authority, on the one hand killing and maiming with bombs and bullets and on the other playing the role of community protector as police, judge, jury and jailer.

Sinn Fein undermined policing throughout the Troubles and what happened Mairia Cahill is a direct result. Coming from a strong republican family she couldn't go to the RUC, she turned to the republican movement to help, but they trampled on her rights for a supposed greater good.

All of this allegedly happened in 1997 when the IRA was on ceasefire. You dread to think what may have taken place during the years of violence, when ordinary social order was under threat.

There are clear echoes of the way Sinn Fein handled sexual abuse within their community and the way the Catholic Church dealt with such matters.

Everything was hushed up to protect the institution, to protect the abuser and with scant regard for the victim of the abuse.

Sinn Fein and Adams must address this matter face on and accept that grave errors were made in dealing with such matters in the past and that further insult was carried out last week in trying to spin their way out of a tight spot.

Gerry Adams and Sinn Fein have and are making huge strides in winning Dáil seats and are riding high in opinion polls by offering an alternative to the centrist political parties of Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour. They are doing so by speaking for hard-pressed communities and being a strong voice for people suffering under austerity by standing up for citizens rights.

The equality of rights of citizens in a Republic is something that Adams speaks of repeatedly, it is part of his political rhethoric, but the revelations of the past week show the hypocisy of his utterances.

He and the republican movement showed no equality of citizenship to Mairia Cahill when she first raised her abuse with them, nor did they show much equality and respect last week and have only begun to display some in the face of a glaring media spotlight.

Adams must now practice what he preaches, treating all citizens equally including those abused by republicans.

Irish Independent