23rd October 2014
named in Maíria Cahill case claim ‘trial by media’
Adams challenges Taoiseach to meet four people allegedly involved in ‘kangaroo court’
After a day of high drama in the Dáil over the claims by Belfast woman Maíria Cahill, a solicitor representing four people allegedly involved in a “kangaroo court” into her allegations of rape by an IRA man have complained of “trial by media”.
Peter Madden of Belfast solicitors Madden and Finucane said the fallout from last week’s BBC Spotlight programme on Ms Cahill meant his clients’ acquittals “have been either ignored or devalued”.
Mr Madden represents former IRA prisoner Pádraic Wilson, Briege Wright, Maura McCrory and Séamus Finucane, brother of murdered Belfast solicitor Pat Finucane. In May this year charges against them of arranging Provisional IRA meetings were dropped.
Ms Cahill has alleged they participated in the internal IRA investigation into her allegations of rape by Belfast IRA man Martin Morris.
Earlier yesterday, in the Dáil, Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams challenged Taoiseach Enda Kenny to meet the four people named by Ms Cahill.
Mr Kenny had earlier met Ms Cahill for 90 minutes at Government Buildings and listened to her allegations. “Will you now facilitate a meeting with those she accuses?” Mr Adams asked.
During bitter exchanges, he said Mr Kenny should bring them in and ask the questions he was asserting as fact. “I refute the allegations that have been made about me and about Sinn Féin members who assure me that all they did, in their engagements, conversations and their work with Maíria Cahill, was to help her,” he added.
After some further angry exchanges, Mr Kenny said he would meet the people referred to by Mr Adams. “I won’t stand in judgment of them; I will ask them the questions that you won’t answer,” he added.
Mr Kenny had challenged Mr Adams to confirm if he knew whether Ms Cahill was required to attend in a room with three men and her abuser, all members of the IRA, and that a second meeting took place some months later.
He also asked Mr Adams if he was
aware of people being moved to the Republic, having been involved
in sexual abuse in the North.
Muilleoir to be Westminster candidate
Máirtín Ó Muilleoir will be Sinn Féin's candidate for south Belfast in next year's Westminster election, the party has announced.
The former Lord Mayor of Belfast has also been co-opted to the Assembly, where he will replace party colleague Alex Maskey as a south Belfast MLA.
Mr Maskey will replace Sue Ramsey as a west Belfast MLA, after the Sinn Féin woman announced earlier this month that she would be stepping down from the role for health reasons.
Speaking after Wednesday's announcements Mr Ó Muilleoir, currently a Balmoral councillor, said it is a "great honour" to be chosen to stand in the General Election.
He continued: "In this new role I will work to build a better Belfast and will campaign vigorously to become the new MP for the south of the city. It is also an honour to be chosen as an MLA to build on the great work carried out by my colleague Alex Maskey.
"My priorities are to build the community by attracting jobs and investment, enhancing diversity and celebrating the arts, and the environmental and educational treasures of the area."
The General Election will be held
in May 2015.
challenges Adams on 'safe houses' for sex abusers
Enda Kenny today challenged Gerry Adams to state whether Republicans moved those accused of sex abuse to safe houses in the South.
Speaking in the Dáil chamber, the Taoiseach said there will a comprehensive Dáil debate into the issue of abuse by the IRA.
He said there are a number of very clear issues that have to be answered in the wake of his meeting with Mairia Cahill this morning.
He described as "reprehensible" the way she was "kicked about" in the past week, saying she is a courageous, confident and brave young woman.
But he said Mr Adams has questions to answer as leader of the Republican movement, and listed several.
"Whether your associates in the IRA, when it was in formal session, knew of people who were moved down to this jurisdiction to so-called 'safe houses' in this city [Dublin] … [or] other places south of here, or to Donegal or to Louth, who were guilty of sexual acts in Northern Ireland, and were moved from that location because of fear of publicity?"
"Are those people still here? Is this true? Do you know of any of the activities that they're involved in now?"
Gerry Adams has also apologised to abuse victims, admitting the IRA had let them down:
"I'm acutely conscious that there may be vicitms who were let down or failed by the IRA's inability to resolve these cases. And as Uachtaráin Sinn Féin I want to apologise to those victims."
Mairia Cahill held a meeting with Enda Kenny this morning before Leaders' Questions for around 90 minutes.
Speaking to reporters as she left Leinster House, she revealed that Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald had sent her a direct message on Twitter offering a meeting.
However, she said she would not meet with Sinn Féin until the party and its leaders "told the truth".
"I haven't refused the offer of a meeting, but in order for a meeting to take place, Sinn Féin have to admit that I've been telling the truth all along," Cahill said.
She said she found Enda Kenny
to be "quite compassionate" and that he seemed "quite
moved by the issues".
Adams apologises to abuse victims let down by IRA
Sinn Féin Leader Gerry Adams TD has apologised to victims of abuse who were let down or failed by the IRA’s inability to resolve these issues.
He said that those who wish should come forward now and report complaints to the appropriate authorities, North or South.
Mr Adams rejected allegations that Sinn Féin was involved in any cover-up of such issues and said the issue had been politicised in the Dáil chamber by Sinn Féin’s opponents.
Speaking in the Dáil today, Gerrry Adams said:
“I am mindful that there are victims and families affected by abuse watching us today. Sexual abuse and abuse of any kind is wrong. The abuse of a child is a particularly heinous crime. The consequences for victims and their families are devastating. We know this having seen the human cost of abuse right across Irish society.
“I have set out the circumstances in the North when there was no democratic, civic policing service. The IRA sought to deal with some cases of abuse when asked to do so by families and victims. While IRA Volunteers were acting in good faith, the IRA was ill equipped to deal with such matters.
“IRA actions against sex abusers failed victims. That is a matter of profound regret for me and other republicans. I am acutely conscious that there may be victims who were let down or failed by the IRA’s inability to resolve these issues.
“As Uachtarán Shinn Féin, I want to apologise to those victims.
“Those who wish should come forward now and report their complaint to the appropriate authorities – An Garda Síochána or the HSE in the south, or the PSNI or Social Services in the North. They will have Sinn Féin’s full support in doing so.
“Secrecy has surrounded abuse in Ireland. It was taboo to discuss, and some victims were very fearful to disclose. The only way to face this problem is to support victims, and to empower them to speak out. To cover up child abuse is to deny the basic humanity of the victim and to shield the perpetrator. It is an unthinkable act of cruelty.
“Sinn Féin has not engaged in a cover-up of child abuse as some of our political enemies cynically suggest. This accusation is a slur on thousands of decent people.
“Republicans are no different to any other Irish citizens. Like most other parents we do our best to protect our children, to keep them safe. Republicans have learned, like every other section of society that ongoing vigilance and believing children when they disclose is essential. Republicans, like everyone else know that reporting quickly and to the right channels is the way to seek and achieve justice.”
Mr Adams asked the Taoiseach to accept that such difficult issues need to be dealt with in a victim-centred way by the appropriate authorities and not politicised as they have been in the Dáil chamber.
Referring to Enda Kenny’s meeting today with Maíria Cahill, the Sinn Fein Leader said that all those Sinn Féin representatives who supported Maíria believe that she has been a victim of abuse and suffered trauma.
He went on:
“However Maíria has made some grievous allegations against myself and named Sinn Féin representatives. I and all the others refute those allegations – allegations that are now embellished and reported as fact.
“Taoiseach these matters were addressed in the courts. Four people were charged and acquitted in a court of law in relation to these allegations. You have yet to meet with me to address these allegations.
“Taoiseach having met with Maíria is it not right and proper that you meet with myself and the other Sinn Féin members to hear of their experience of trying to help Maíria, to hear of their support and the advice they offered? Is that not right and proper before you rush to judgment?”
The Taoiseach, in his response
agreed to Mr Adams’ request to meet with him and other Sinn
Féin members to hear of their experience of trying to help
Justice Committee may call in Cahill and Adams
Tense exchanges over claims take place between Enda Kenny and Gerry Adams in Dáil
The Oireachtas Justice Committee may move to invite alleged rape victim Maíria Cahill and others including Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams in to inquire into the manner in which the party and the IRA handled allegations of sexual abuse in the nationalist community.
On the eve of Ms Cahill’s meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny at Government Buildings this morning, there were very tense exchanges in the Dáil between Mr Adams on the one hand and Mr Kenny and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin on the other.
They centre on the allegations made by Belfast-based Ms Cahill that she was raped by a senior IRA figure and that the crime was subsequently covered up by Sinn Féin.
During the course of the sharp exchanges the Taoiseach suggested it would be a good idea for the all-party justice committee to examine the issue and invite in Ms Cahill and senior figures in Sinn Féin, to ascertain the extent of the sexual abuse and whether there was a cover-up.
While such an inquiry would be voluntary with no powers of compellability, the idea has got strong backing from Fianna Fáil. Party leader Micheál Martin said last night the party had written to the committee requesting such an inquiry.
Committee chairman David Stanton and his colleagues are expected to discuss the issue in the coming days.
In the Dáil, Mr Kenny said the committee should deal with the issue and ask relevant people to attend before it and he would contact Mr Stanton.
Mr Adams said he had no objection to the Oireachtas looking at any allegation of abuse, particularly child abuse, with the committee dealing with the issue.
But he then made strong criticism of the Taoiseach and Mr Martin, contending that neither had bothered to contact him or ask for his response to Ms Cahill’s allegations. He also said that both had made grievous allegations against him.
“There’s been no cover-up by me or Sinn Féin on this matter,” he said.
Mr Martin responded that he did not believe Mr Adams.
“I do not accept that. I think there has been a cover-up and I make that charge before the House,” he said.
Mr Kenny, who is to meet Ms Cahill
today, said: “The false assumption of a war being waged doesn’t
justify shootings or disappearances or kangaroo courts”.
talks: US appoints Gary Hart as envoy
US Secretary of State John Kerry is to send the former senator Gary Hart to act as his envoy at the multi-party political talks at Stormont.
Senator Hart, who is 77, visited Belfast in August where he spent time meeting with local political parties.
He is expected to return before the end of the month.
Mr Kerry said on Tuesday that Mr Hart would help smooth negotiations in the new round of talks being held by Northern Ireland's political parties.
The talks are aimed at resolving difficulties among the five parties in the devolved Stormont government.
Like the Haass talks that ended without a deal last December, the negotiators are considering the problems of flags, parades and the legacy of the Troubles.
'Confidence and trust'
They shall also examine changes to the way the assembly and executive work.
Mr Kerry said Senator Hart had "his confidence and trust".
"Whether it's through his 12 years in the Senate, or his work on the US Commission on National Security in the 21st Century, Gary is known as a problem-solver, a brilliant analyst, and someone capable of thinking at once tactically, strategically, and practically.
"Now we're fortunate that he's agreed to devote some additional time to engage in the tough and patient work of diplomacy as my personal representative, including on issues related to Northern Ireland."
The United States Consul General in Belfast, Greg Burton, will serve as Senator Hart's deputy for his Northern Ireland work.
Mr Hart ran for president in 1984
and again in 1988.
review of Maíria Cahill cases
Three cases linked to the alleged rape of Belfast woman Maíria Cahill are to be reviewed, the PPS has announced.
Ms Cahill said she was raped as a teenager and later interrogated by the IRA about her allegations.
She later went to the police, and a case was brought against the alleged rapist and those said to have been involved in the IRA inquiry.
All charges were dropped and the accused rapist acquitted after Ms Cahill withdrew her evidence.
The cases to be reviewed involve the trial of Padraic Wilson, Briege Wright, Seamus Finucane, and Agnes McCrory, who were accused of organising Provisional IRA meetings and separate proceedings against the alleged rapist, Martin Morris.
All of them had denied the charges.
Ms Cahill waived her right to anonymity to speak to BBC Northern Ireland's Spotlight programme, broadcast last week.
She claims republicans tried to cover up her allegations.
The Belfast woman is a member of one of the republican movement's best-known families.
Her great uncle, Joe Cahill, was one of the founders of the Provisional IRA and was a long-time associate of Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams.
Announcing the independent review of the cases, Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory, QC, said: "I have carefully considered the range of issues that have been raised following the recent edition of BBC NI's Spotlight programme A Woman Alone with the IRA.
"While it would not be appropriate for the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to enter into a media discussion about evidential aspects of these particular cases, I consider that an independent, external scrutiny of our processes and procedures is warranted."
He added: "I consider that there are particular challenges in prosecuting complex and interlinked cases, as in this instance, involving serious sexual abuse and terrorist related charges and involving multiple complainants and multiple defendants.
"This independent review will consider all aspects of the prosecution of these cases and if there are lessons to be learned, we will do so, openly and transparently."
Following Tuesday's PPS announcement, Ms Cahill tweeted: "I welcome PPS announcement today that they will independently review handling of my court cases. Disappointing that they didn't let me know."
Sinn Féin said it welcomed the review.
"The needs of victims must always be paramount in dealing with cases of this nature. I look forward to the completion of this review," the party's Raymond McCartney said.
Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister said: "Having pressed Barra McGrory QC, at our meeting last Thursday and in conversations since, for an external review into how the PPS handled the three cases linked to Maíria Cahill, I welcome this morning's major announcement by the DPP.
"It is important that the issues of public confidence in the PPS, which arise from the collapse of these three cases, are fully addressed."
The review will be conducted by an independent legal expert, who will be announced at a later date.
The PPS co-ordinator for the independent review will be its deputy director, Pamela Atchison.
The issues around Ms Cahill's allegations were discussed at a meeting of the assembly justice committee on Tuesday.
'Slightly higher level'
Justice Minister David Ford said the Public Prosecution Service's independent review of the cases "takes this particular issue further than what has been the established practice of the PPS in recent years".
He said the decision to hold an independent review "takes it to a slightly higher level" and he thought it was "entirely appropriate" for the PPS to set up a review.
However, committee chairman Paul Givan said he thought more was needed.
"In the interests of public confidence in the administration of justice, not just of the police service, not just of the public prosecution service, but also of the police ombudsman's office, I believe that you should be seriously considering a public inquiry into how those particular agencies have handled the Maíria Cahill case," he said.
The SDLP's Patsy McGlone asked Mr Ford if he thought there had been political interference in the Cahill cases.
"As David Ford, Alliance
politician, I may have an opinion on political interference. As justice
minister, I need to be very careful," Mr Ford said.
critical over on-the-runs
Police in Northern Ireland can offer no satisfactory explanation for why they reviewed the cases of 36 republican terror fugitives whose status was changed from wanted to not wanted, a watchdog has found.
Police ombudsman Michael Maguire said an incorrect interpretation of the law had potentially seen a higher threshold for arrest applied to dozens of so-called on-the-runs (OTRs) when their files were subject to re-examination in 2007 as part of an administration scheme set up by the Government to establish whether certain individuals could return to the UK without fear of detention.
Dr Maguire questioned why the exercise had been conducted, given the historic cases had already been looked at as part of the process during the previous six years.
The ombudsman has examined the Police Service of Northern Ireland's (PSNI) role in the controversial scheme - established by the Government at the request of Sinn Fein - and in particular officers' handling of the case of John Downey, who walked free from the Old Bailey earlier this year when his prosecution for the murders of four soldiers in the IRA's 1982 bomb in Hyde Park collapsed when it emerged he had been mistakenly assured in an official letter that he was able to return the UK.
The PSNI was heavily criticised for failing to inform the authorities issuing the letter that Downey was wanted by the Metropolitan Police for questioning over the Hyde Park outrage. Downey, 62, from Co Donegal, denied involvement in the attack.
The error, and subsequent missed opportunities to correct it, happened in the period from 2007 to 2009.
The PSNI had been assessing evidence in individual cases as part of the process since 2000 but in 2007 it initiated a fresh drive to complete the task - called Operation Rapid - after the government signalled a desire for it to be sorted.
The fresh impetus from the Labour administration came in the politically-sensitive period prior to devolution being restored to Stormont.
Dr Maguire's report was critical of Operation Rapid, saying it was marked by a "lack of clarity, structure and leadership", with disjointed communication between key officers.
The ombudsman, who investigates allegations of police misconduct in Northern Ireland, noted that around 130 OTR cases had already been assessed between 2000 and 2006 prior to the start of the new operation.
His report said: "It is therefore significant that when the PSNI Operation Rapid commenced in February 2007, it carried out a review of all names again, not merely a continuation of outstanding checks or a processing of additional names.
"Furthermore, the reviews conducted through Operation Rapid resulted in a change of status in a considerable number of those who had already been reviewed in recent years.
"In comparing the recorded status of the individuals, 36 of those who were assessed prior to January 2007 as 'wanted', for arrest and interview in relation to serious terrorist offences, were subsequently re-assessed in 2007 and 2008 as 'not wanted' by Operation Rapid."
Dr Maguire explained why the status of so many OTRs, among them Downey, was potentially changed.
"Perhaps the most serious and significant flaw was to apply a higher standard for considering whether someone should be arrested than that which is normally applied," he said.
An assessment of Downey in 2004 had established he was wanted for questioning over a bomb attack in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, in 1972. In the 2007 re-assessment, his status in relation to the Enniskillen case was changed to not wanted.
But more significant in Downey's case in terms of the Old Bailey trial was the fact the PSNI failed to inform the relevant authorities that he was wanted for questioning by another police force, the Met, for the Hyde Park outrage.
"It must be acknowledged that at no time did the PSNI record in writing that they were not aware John Downey was wanted by any other police service within the United Kingdom," said Dr Maguire.
"However, their responses to subsequent inquiries from the NIO (Northern Ireland Office) clearly gave rise to that assertion."
A Government-commissioned judge-led review of the administrative scheme published in the summer found it was systematically flawed in operation but not unlawful in principle.
Lady Justice Hallett, who conducted the inquiry, said a "catastrophic" error had been made in the Downey case, but she insisted the letters of assurance did not amount to amnesties or get-out-of-jail-free cards.
The PSNI is re-examining all the OTR cases - around 230 - to establish if any other errors have been made.
Responding to Dr Maguire's findings, PSNI chief constable George Hamilton said: "In February 2014, the Police Service of Northern Ireland accepted full responsibility for its failings which lead to the collapse of the trial of John Downey. The PSNI referred the case to the office of the police ombudsman for an independent investigation into the role of police.
"The then-chief constable Matt Baggott accepted that the failings of the police should not have happened and issued a full apology to the families of the victims and survivors of the Hyde Park atrocity.
"The PSNI chief constable
has since initiated a review of all those people considered under
the 'On The Run' scheme and this work is still ongoing."
believes ‘more cases to follow’ alleged republican cover-up
of sex abuse
Enda Kenny says conduct of Sinn Féin over Maíria Cahill allegations ‘utterly despicable’
Taoiseach Enda Kenny has said it is his understanding that there are “more cases to follow” of alleged cover-ups within Sinn Féin and the IRA of sexual crime.
In his harshest criticism of Sinn Féin to date over the manner in which it dealt with rape victim Maíria Cahill, the Taoiseach described the conduct of Sinn Féin as “utterly despicable”.
Last week Ms Cahill, a grandniece of IRA leader Joe Cahill, told a BBC Spotlight investigation she had been raped by a senior member of the IRA in the late 1990s and that the paramilitary organisation had later interrogated her about the incident.
She said she had also spoken to Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams about the case in 2000. There is now a clear conflict between her account of the meeting and that of Mr Adams.
Over the weekend, Mr Adams wrote an article for his blog in which he conceded the IRA had investigated allegations of sexual abuse and assault.
He accepted that in many cases victims were left without the necessary social service support, and abusers were left without supervision. He accepted the system put in place by the IRA failed the victims and the community alike.
Responding to the developments today, the Taoiseach said: “I think there has been despicable, utterly despicable, conduct by Sinn Féin to discredit Maíria Cahill over the last period.
“Is this another part of an attempt to discredit a young woman who’s telling a story from the inside and my understanding is that there is more to follow,” said Mr Kenny.
The last comment was taken as a reference to Ms Cahill’s comments that she is not an isolated case and she is of the belief that more victims will come forward to describe how their cases had been covered up.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin also castigated what he described as a belated attempt by Mr Adams and Sinn Féin to acknowledge the issues raised by Ms Cahill.
“After instigating a vicious campaign of vilification against Maíria Cahill over the course of the last week, it is of course welcome that Gerry Adams has belatedly acknowledged that his organisation did carry out internal investigations of sexual abuse allegations.
“However, it is deeply disappointing that even as he abandons a key claim, he fails to do the right thing by Ms Cahill,” he said.
Mr Kenny is due to meet Ms Cahill at Government Buildings later this week. The Belfast woman is also meeting the Northern Ireland First Minister Peter Robinson today.
In her own response to Mr Adams’s blog, Ms Cahill said this morning she welcomed the admission the IRA had conducted inquiries into allegations of rape and sexual assault by its own members.
“After a week of continuously saying this and after years of being vilified for trying to raise this issue to protect vulnerable children, Gerry Adams is finally admitting that yes, it happened and yes, the IRA did carry out internal investigations into sexual abuse.
“The most disgusting thing actually is that while he admitted it happened in that blog, he is still denying it happened to me,” she told RTÉ.
Over the course of the weekend, a number of prominent Sinn Féin representatives have said they accept Ms Cahill’s account of having been abused but have denied any cover-up by Sinn Féin.
The party’s deputy leader
Mary Lou McDonald said: “Sinn Féin is not involved in
any cover-up around child abuse. I want to make that absolutely clear.
Much less are we withholding any co-operation from the police, as
has been asserted by Maíria Cahill.”
stage Stormont protest
Victims of Northern Ireland's bloody conflict have staged a protest at Stormont to pressurise politicians into dealing with the past.
They want the Executive, British and Irish governments to implement proposals agreed during the failed Haass talks last year.
John Teggart, whose father was shot dead by soldiers in 1971 during an incident referred to as the Ballymurphy Massacre, said: "We are here as a reminder to the politicians that there are real people involved.
"We need to let the politicians know that whatever they decide to do, we need to accept it and they need to know that we will continue until we get our just demands."
The day of action was organised to coincide with a new round of political talks aimed at tackling controversial legacy issues as well as the current financial difficulties facing the Stormont administration.
Among those taking part were families of people killed in the Dublin, Monaghan, Dundalk, and Castleblaney bombings.
They joined relatives of those killed as a result of State and paramilitary violence in Belfast and Londonderry including the Bloody Sunday, McGurk's Bar, Ballymurphy and Loughinisland families.
In a symbolic move the bereaved campaigners placed victims' shoes at the steps of Parliament Buildings with a note or photograph detailing their loved one's murder.
Paul O'Connor from the Pat Finucane Centre, which helped organise the event, said: "We are calling on the British government to directly fund all legacy investigations through a unit independent of the PSNI.
"The collapse of the Victims and Survivors' Service, the cuts to the Police Ombudsman's office and the proposal to move historic investigations to the PSNI following the demise of the HET have left victims feeling vulnerable and angry."
Special measures set up to deal with the past have been badly affected by budget cuts in recent weeks.
Last month the PSNI announced it was axing the Historical Enquiries Unit (HET) which was set up to investigate unsolved Troubles killings. The Police Ombudsman has also reduced resources dedicated to examining historic allegations of police misconduct during the conflict.
The Coroners Service is also struggling to find the resources to deal with a series of long delayed inquests from the Troubles.
And although a £100 million Treasury loan secured by the powersharing Executive has temporarily alleviated the financial problems at Stormont, it has effectively only pushed the issue back to next year, when the loan has to be repaid.
Earlier this year Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Theresa Villiers refused to set up an independent review to probe the shooting dead of 10 civilians by soldiers from the parachute regiment in west Belfast more than 40 years ago.
Mr Teggart added: "We are here and the Government need to take on board our proposals."
"My father was shot 14 times
and he deserves justice."
Cahill says Gerry Adams was recruited into the IRA by her grandfather
Mairia Cahill has called on Gerry Adams to resign as leader of Sinn Fein and claimed her grandfather recruited him into the IRA.
Speaking on Newstalk this morning, Ms Cahill was responding to Adams' statement last night which he admitted he regrets how the IRA dealt with rapists and also Mary Lou McDonald's interview with the radio station.
She also responded to an interview with Mary Lou McDonald which aired on the show this morning.
Last night the Sinn Fein president admitted that the IRA carried out 'kangaroo court' investigations into sex abuse allegations and punished sex offenders, his first admission of IRA involvement in such cases.
In a BBC Spotlight documentary, Ms Cahill (33) said she was interrogated by an internal IRA inquiry when she alleged a senior member of the organisation repeatedly raped her when she was 16-years-old. She also said she met Mr Adams and discussed her allegations.
"I cannot continue to do this over and over and over," she said. "They owe every victim an apology."
"We need the truth to be told on the issue and I can't say it strongly enough."
"I think it's shameful and shocking."
Ms Cahill also said that Mary Lou McDonald's position that she believed Adams when he said he has never been a member of the IRA undermines her own credibility.
"Her credibility is tainted by default. I know Gerry Adams was a member of the IRA. My grandfather recruited him into what was termed the Community Organisation. That is a matter of record."
"I have family members who
were also in the IRA who would have confirmed this."
Lou McDonald joins Gerry Adams in admitting she knew about IRA 'sex
Sinn Fein's vice president Mary Lou McDonald says she was aware of the IRA interference in sex cases as outlined by Gerry Adams yesterday.
The Sinn Fein president had been forced to admit the IRA carried out 'kangaroo court' investigations into sex abuse allegations and punished sex offenders, his first admission of IRA involvement in such cases.
Adam's shifting position has come in the wake of Mairia Cahill's claim of a cover-up of her rape by an IRA member when she was just 16-years-old.
In a BBC Spotlight documentary, Ms Cahill (33) said she was interrogated by an internal IRA inquiry when she alleged a senior member of the organisation repeatedly raped her when she was 16-years-old. She also said she met Mr Adams and discussed her allegations.
Speaking on Newstalk's Breakfast Show this morning, McDonald said that while she wasn't condoning the actions taken by the IRA regarding kangaroo courts into sex abuse allegations, she believed it was inevitable in the absence of a police service.
"I was aware of the background as Gerry has set it out," she revealed.
"It was really breakdown of democratic structures, there was no access to police and non-political policing. The people looked for other solutions in their communities. Gerry has pointed out on one hand the very positive outcome of that in terms of restorative justice.
"The truth is there were also negative sides to that such joy riding, drug dealing and abuse. People looked to the IRA to resolve those matters for them."
McDonald believes that the anti-social behaviour was the result of a society in crisis.
"Communities had nowhere else to turn. These were incredibly difficult circumstances so in the absence of a bona-fida police service, inevitably I suppose, there were other responses.
"I'm not pretending for a moment this was a good situation, it clearly wasn't."
"I'm not advertising this as a good thing that happened."
Adams has claimed there is "no corporate way" of verifying if an investigation took place into Ms Cahill's claims because the IRA has been disbanded.
McDonald re-iterated her stance that while she was "deeply sorry" for the "horrific" nature of Ms Cahill's claims, she does believe that there were assertions made against the party that were simply untrue
"I don't accept the implication that every instance of abuse that happened in Republican areas, in Republican households, in households where there was an IRA member, that you can reach the conclusion that I, or the Republicans in Sinn Fein are responsible for that."
"I have said this previously and publicly that Maria was abused, that she was raped. She has consistently said she was traumatised and violated in this way.
"I am deeply, deeply sorry that for horrific experience came into her life. It's very, very difficult to recover from."
"Neither I, nor anyone else from Sinn Fein has any interest in covering up or running away from the circumstances in which people were hurt in this way.
Ms Cahill said last week was "disgusted" by Ms McDonald's comments regarding the allegations.
McDonald did however insist that certain allegations made against the party were simply untrue.
"Specific assertions have been made by Maria in respect of Sinn Fein. She has accused us of covering up abuse. She has asserted that we refused to co-operate with the police on matters pertaining to abuse.
"I want to say categorically that this is not true. It's most unfair and unjust"
"I'm not calling her a liar. Maria has told her story, which is brave of her. She has come out and told her story. In the course of telling that story she has made assertions against Sinn Fein which are untrue. That's the position."
McDonald denied again the accusations that Adams was a member of the IRA and says she has discussed the Cahill case at length with her party leader.
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's Dessie Ellis told RTE's Morning Ireland programme said there was no "cover up".
Mr Ellis said the IRA carried out investigations when sex abuse was alleged - although he said he wasn't aware of any specific cases.
A team was appointed by "well-standing"
IRA members to investigate the allegations, Mr Ellis explained.
Cahill calls on Adams to quit
Máiria Cahill is calling for Gerry Adams to step down as leader of Sinn Féin.
It follows comments he posted online last night, conceding that the IRA had taken action against alleged sex offenders in the past, including shooting them.
However he said the organisation was 'singularly ill-equipped' to deal with such matters.
He also repeated his denials of Mairia Cahill's allegations against him over his handling of her claims.
Ms Cahill says Gerry Adams needs to consider his position: "I think his behaviour is beyond reprehensible now and I am calling for him to do the decent thing and step down.
"I think he is repeatedly traumatising me, he is repeatedly traumatising othe victims.
"I was up at 3 o'clock this morning speaking to an abuse victim I have never met before who alleges that a member of Sinn Féin has covered up the abuse also and that person is in bits.
"I cannot continue to do
this over and over and over."
backs Gerry Adams over Maíria Cahill allegations
Leading Sinn Féin figures deny claim of abuse cover-up
Sinn Féin’s finance spokesman, Pearse Doherty, said he knew Maíria Cahill and believed she had been abused but rejected her allegation that the party had covered up child abuse.
The Donegal South West TD said Sinn Féin’s position was clear and that anyone with any information on child abuse should bring it to the authorities without delay.
“There is no cover-up in Sinn Féin. Those allegations are simply not true. There is no dossier that Sinn Féin has of Republicans that abused people,” he said.
Mr Doherty told RTÉ’s The Week in Politics programme he did not believe the accusations Ms Cahill had levelled at Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams were true.
She has alleged Mr Adams told her abusers could be so manipulative that the people being abused actually enjoyed the abuse, which he has strongly denied.
On her claim that she had to face her alleged assailant in a republican-style court, Mr Doherty said: “If this happened it was absolutely wrong, it was appalling and it shouldn’t have happened.”
‘A most serious allegation’
The party’s deputy leader, Mary Lou McDonald, also said at the weekend that she believed Ms Cahill had been abused, but described her allegations that members of Sinn Féin covered up child abuse as “completely wrong”.
“That’s a most serious allegation. It’s also completely wrong,” she told RTÉ’s This Week programme.
Ms Cahill tweeted during the programme to claim recordings existed “in relation to those IRA meetings in those flats”.
Sinn Féin Senator David Cullinane said he believed Ms Cahill had been abused. “Of course I believe her, but the issue has been dealt with through the courts and we all have to be very careful in terms of how we deal with that.”
The party’s justice spokesman, Pádraig MacLochlainn, said: “The key issue for me, and something that’s been missed in all this, is that there have actually been court proceedings taken.”
Mr MacLochlainn said he believed Ms Cahill had been a victim of abuse.
“I think it’s very, very tragic that it wasn’t brought to the attention of the authorities at that time,” he said.
He said that if there were other victims of abuse, they should come forward. “If somebody has covered up these sorts of issues or advised people to stay silent, they should pay the price.”
Anybody with information should give it to the authorities, he added. He said he had known Mr Adams for a long time. “He believes people should speak up for their rights. I don’t believe for a moment the words that were being attributed to him, no.”
Aengus Ó Snodaigh, Dublin South Central TD, also said he did not believe that aspect of Ms Cahill’s statements. “The knowledge I have and the dealings I’ve had with him [Mr Adams], that would not be something that he would say.”
On the topic of the republican-style
court, Mr Ó Snodaigh said he had no knowledge of such things
in Belfast or anywhere else.
dealt with allegations of child abuse - an article by Gerry Adams
The recent allegations made by Maíria Cahill are of serious concern to myself and Sinn Féin. While I refute completely Maíria’s allegations against myself and Sinn Féin it does raise the significant issue of how allegations of abuse had been handled in the past by republicans.
Abuse respects no political boundaries. It affects all classes, creeds and social groups. Women and children in the main suffer as a result. It is now accepted that one in four citizens have experienced abuse.
Our society has been extremely bad, until relatively recently, in facing up to this matter and developing the necessary responses and supports. This has been the case in both states but in the North these failures were further exacerbated by conflict.
In conflicts civilians suffer the most, particularly women and children. This is especially the case when communities are under military occupation. During the conflict in the north many nationalist and particularly republican communities suffered grievously under British military rule. In the main since partition, these communities had never accepted unionist one party rule. They were resentful of, and oppressed in, the Orange state which rejected all attempts at reform over the decades.
After the pogroms of 1969, Internment in 1971 and Bloody Sunday in 1972 the vast majority of nationalists withdrew any consent to be governed from the Northern state, it's institutions and agencies.
The conflict itself caused widespread hurt and suffering, but so too did the absence of the structures and institutions which are the norm in peaceful, democratic societies. These citizens never had a policing service. Policing and the Legal process were subverted to the primary objective of defeating republicanism at all costs. The RUC was a quasi-military arm of the state which acted against nationalists and republicans as if we were the enemy.
In many cases the absence of a civic police service also disconnected alienated communities from the support of social services. These communities policed themselves. The vast majority of people were law abiding and decent. Strong and empowered and progressive communities emerged. New and innovative restorative justice systems were developed as part of this collective experience. But there was also, particularly in the first two decades of the conflict a more brutal form of rough justice.
Some journalists and political opponents of Sinn Féin continue to perpetuate a particular myth about life in nationalist areas of the North during the conflict. They portray republicans as having oppressed republican/nationalist communities through political control and vigilantism. This was never the case. The IRA could never have sustained itself without popular support and Sinn Féin would not have developed as we have unless we had the support of the people.
The reality of course is that a professional, accountable and impartial policing service was absent and unattainable in a society that was manifestly unjust. In many republican areas the community put pressure on the IRA - which sprang from and was sustained by the community - to fill this policing vacuum.
The IRA itself often viewed this role as a major distraction from its central function. It suspected that the RUC indulged criminals in order to tie down IRA resources and demoralise the nationalist community.
IRA 'policing' was most evident in those areas where it had strongest support. The bulk of this activity involved mediation between those in dispute, and went unreported.
However, the IRA often punished petty criminals, car thieves, burglars and drug dealers. The IRA, inevitably also made mistakes.
Despite the high standards and decency of the vast majority of IRA volunteers, IRA personnel were singularly ill-equipped to deal with these matters. This included very sensitive areas such as responding to demands to take action against rapists and child abusers. The IRA on occasion shot alleged sex offenders or expelled them.
While this may have been expedient at the time it was not appropriate. Victims were left without the necessary social service support and abusers without supervision. It ultimately failed victims and the community alike. That is a matter of profound regret for me, and many other republicans.
But these actions were of their time and reflected not only a community at war but also an attitude within Ireland which did not then understand or know as we now do, how deeply embedded abuse is in our society.
For decades the institutions of both states including successive governments, the RUC, An Garda Siochana, the courts, social services, churches and others did not deal with these matters properly.
Many senior republicans, including me, had major issues with the IRA acting as a policing agency. Martin McGuinness and I are on the public record speaking out against punishment shootings since the 1980s.
This facet of IRA activity was gradually discontinued over a long period as republican activism evolved despite sizeable and understandable opposition in some communities, which were contending with a Loyalist murder campaign alongside British military aggression and ingrained disadvantage and discrimination. They had little patience for anti-social behaviour, drug pushers, death drivers or sexual abusers.
Despite the alienation from the RUC it was the accepted de facto practice that they dealt with traffic accidents, car insurance and such matters. Incidents of rape were also reported to them in some cases and no thinking person would have made a case against that. But many victims or families of victims were reluctant to bring cases of child abuse forward. This was part of the larger problem all society and particularly victims faced at that time. But where a case emerged there was the added problem for some about reporting this to the RUC. They wanted the community or the IRA to take actions.
As society became better informed as to the issue and handling of abuse, republicans began to develop victim centred approaches, ensuring that victims received the necessary supports, counselling and advice.
As Sinn Féin developed our constituency services we also developed our policies in relation to abuse.
I advocated that we direct victims to the Social Services if they did not want to go to the RUC, in the knowledge that the Social Services could go to the RUC. In other words Republicans including the IRA, could not deal with these issues. Sinn Féin would direct people to counselling services and advise victims of legacy issues but we also told everyone that we would report all cases in which children could be at risk to the Social Services or the HSE.
Following the IRA cessation in 1994 and the developing peace process legacy cases of abuse emerged. Many of these are in the public domain. Some involved republicans. My father was an abuser. Some also may have involved IRA volunteers. Those who wish to have these cases dealt with have that right.
The recent publicity surrounding the case of Maíria Cahill has brought this particular issue to the fore in public consciousness. Maíria alleges she was raped, and that the IRA conducted an investigation into this. The IRA has long since left the scene so there is no corporate way of verifying this but it must be pointed out that this allegation was subject to a police investigation, charges were brought against some republicans who strenuously denied Maíria's allegations. They insist they tried to help her. They were all acquitted by the court.
Maíria has also accused Sinn Féin and me of engaging in a cover up. That is untrue. When I learned of the allegation that Maíria was the victim of rape I asked her grand-uncle Joe Cahill, a senior and widely respected republican, to advise her to go to the RUC. He did this but Maíria did not want to do so at that time.
When Maíria subsequently did go to the police, I co-operated with the police investigation.
Any of the other Sinn Féin representatives named by Maíria have assured me that they at all times sought to support and help her. They advised on counselling, on speaking to her own family or approaching social services or the police. The people she spoke to are decent, thoughtful citizens and compassionate people. There was absolutely no cover up by Sinn Féin at any level.
Sinn Féin has robust party guidelines and processes on the issues of child protection, allegations of sexual abuse and/or sexual harassment, which were adopted by An Ard Chomhairle in 2006 in line with changes to the law.
Sinn Féin adopted New Child Protection Guidelines in 2010, which were produced in consultation with the HSE and Social Services and the PSNI.
Maíria has said that there are other victims who are living in fear, and perpetrators at large who are a danger to children at this time, as a result of how republicans dealt with these issues in the past.
No one should be living in fear and no child should be at risk.
Anyone who has any information whatsoever about any child abuse should come forward to the authorities North or South and they will have the full support of Sinn Féin in so doing.
That includes Maíria Cahill, who says that there are perpetrators at large who are a danger to children at this time. Whatever information she has on this she should give to the appropriate authority.
Healing and rebuilding a society still emerging from conflict demands that many difficult issues will need to be faced up to and dealt with as a necessary part of putting the past behind us.
That will require a huge amount of courage, compassion and humility across our society.
How Republicans dealt with the issue of child abuse should be one of these issues, if that is what victims want. Sinn Féin will accept our responsibility in contributing to the resolution of these wrongs. We are committed to creating a society which is no longer bedevilled or haunted by the legacy of any harm or injustices. Sexual abuse is a challenge which still challenges all sections of modern Irish society.
Looking after all victims and their families is a significant and important part of building a peaceful and just society. And victims include a wider category than those killed or injured as a result of armed actions by any of the protagonists.
It includes those who were brutalised or had their lives limited or adversely affected by growing up in a society scarred by war and the absence of agreed, stable, democratic structures and institutions.
It also includes those badly served
or mistreated by the forces of the State and those badly served or
mistreated by non-State actors and armed groups, including the IRA.
axed Sunday murder probe fund?’
Relatives of those killed on Bloody Sunday said questions remain over who gave the order to pull funding on the live murder investigation.
Mickey McKinney and John Kelly spoke after joining other relatives at a meeting with detectives from Crime Operations Branch at the City Hotel in Derry on Wednesday night.
Mr Kelly- whose brother Michael was one of 13 men and boys shot and killed on January 30th, 1972- said he now believed the investigation is finished, after the majority of detectives working on it were sent home yesterday, leaving only a skeleton crew in place.
Mr McKinney- whose brother William was also shot and killed by paratroopers that day- said relatives were warned at the meeting that the murder probe could now slip down the priority list and join other legacy cases.
Both men questioned how £4m, which they were told by former Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie had been ring-fenced for the investigation, has disappeared.
Mr Kelly said yesterday he believed the decision to pull funding was political: “The 12 guys who were the backbone of the Inquiry are now gone, and I believe that when they went home the Inquiry ended.
“We were told previously that it would have to be likes of another Omagh Bombing for this to end. I asked last night ‘where did the money go?’ They weren’t able to answer it. That to me is scandalous. Money is more important than justice.”
Mickey McKinney meanwhile said: “For our part, we have always been a bit suspicious over how and when they were going to interfere or stop us getting justice. The detective herself said they had more questions than answers, so who’s responsible for pulling the plug on this? Does it come down to the Chief Constable or is it somebody beyond that?”
Some relatives expressed shock over a perceived silence from politicians on the matter.
PSNI Detective Superintendent Karen Baxter said they were only told earlier this month that most of the staff working on the investigation would be let go due to “severe financial pressures”.
She said: “We regret that this has happened. Our preference would have been to continue with the investigation, given all the work which has already been done, but that is no longer possible.
“We understand that the decision to put the investigation on hold has caused much hurt to the families. We apologise for this but it is a matter outside our control.”
She added: “We understand our commitments and our obligations. We still adhere to these principles, including those which relate to the past, but we have been forced to operate within a severely reduced budget. Regrettably, this means we have to make hard, unpleasant choices.”
Sinn Fein MLA Raymond McCartney said: “There can be no question of this important investigation being downgraded or scaled down. I will be raising my concerns over this investigation with the PSNI and urging them to ensure it is adequately resourced.”
A follow-up meeting is expected
in the coming weeks.
Dublin won’t be involved in talks on NI’s internal affairs
Theresa Villiers used a speech to Saturday’s Ulster Unionist conference to set out the parameters of the Irish Government’s involvement in the current Stormont talks.
In a speech where the Secretary of State emphasised her personal unionism and delight at Scotland’s vote to stay a part of the UK, Ms Villiers told the conference that it was “clear that the institutions at Stormont are in difficulty”.
She said that was why the Government has convened the talks involving all five Executive parties.
In what seemed like a veiled criticism of Peter Robinson’s decision to boycott the opening plenary session on Thursday, Ms Villiers said: “I very much welcome the fact that Mike Nesbitt and his team were there as full participants in the discussions — ensuring that the voice of Ulster Unionism was heard loud and clear.”
The Secretary of State went on: “And I give you this assurance. As one of the signatories to the Belfast Agreement and its successors, there will be some issues in the discussions that directly involve the Irish Government.
“And I welcome the support of Charlie Flanagan and his team in this process.
“But under this Government those talks will remain faithful to the three stranded approach that has worked in the past. That means that Northern Ireland’s internal arrangements remain exclusively matters for the political parties here and for the UK Government.”
Ms Villiers said that the talks involved two urgent issues — “budgetary matters and welfare reform” and “the legacy matters which can so often embitter community relations”.
Ms Villiers praised the UUP for having “a long and distinguished record of doing the right thing for Northern Ireland” and singled out the number of the party’s members who served in the security forces during the Troubles.
She said: “I have in mind not just in your contribution to the historic Belfast Agreement of 1998.
“I’d like also to put on my record my admiration for the many members of your party who served in uniform to defend the rule of law against attack from terrorists.”
Ms Villiers also said that although the UUP-Conservative alliance had come to an end, it had delivered on several of its key promises, including resolving the Presbyterian Mutual Society (PMS) crisis, ending ‘double-jobbing’ by MPs, ending “costly and open-ended inquiries into the past”, working to see if corporation tax could be devolved and openly arguing for the Union.
Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy said that Ms Villiers “needs to stop pandering to Unionists and realise the Good Friday Agreement cannot be rewritten”.
He added: “The Irish Government
is a key player and signatory to the Agreement on par with the British
Government so the British Secretary of State has no power to change
suspicions over coalition’s 1916 agenda
Relatives of Easter Rising combatants are still being kept in the dark about commemoration plans for the centenary. Meanwhile, concerns have mounted that the Dublin government will promote a pro-British version of the events of 1916, which launched Ireland’s fight for independence.
An agreed deadline for commemoration plans to be communicated to the relatives was ignored last month by government officials. Heather Humphreys, the recently appointed Minister for Arts, also this week snubbed an invitation to attend an inaugural special general meeting of the 1916 Relatives Association in Dublin.
“We are extremely disappointed that we find ourselves in a situation where we now have to fight to ensure that people whose sacrifice and bravery led to the birth of our nation are even simply remembered, let alone honoured,” group secretary Una MacNulty told a crowd of about 250 attendees.
The association, which has accused the government of the “utmost ineptitude” in planning the 2016 events, was set up this year in part to ensure the families’ participation in whatever ultimately takes place.
Reports have indicated that instead, members of the British royal family will be prominent guests at a ceremony which will see British victims of the battle honoured alongside the Easter martyrs.
Ms Mac Nulty called on the people of Ireland to “unite” with the 1916 Relatives Association to “ensure that their bravery and sacrifice is remembered and commemorated in a manner which they truly deserve.
“We will not stand idly by and allow the memory of our relatives and their extraordinary deeds to be denigrated and forgotten,” she added.
Sinn Fein has accused the Government of “indifference” and a “lack of preparedness” for the centenary. The claim was made by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams at a speech to a party gathering in Belfast last night, during which he also called for the involvement of the diaspora.
Mr Adams said the only idea mooted
by Cabinet members so far had been to invite members of the British
Royal Family. He added that there was also the prospect of the last
HQ of the leaders of the Rising being demolished in advance of the
planned killings before and after ceasefire
In 2005, ten years after the organisation declared a ‘ceasefire’, the unionist paramilitary UVF continued to gather personal information on leading republicans with the intention of targeting them for assassination.
Details of a dossier of information with names, addresses and personal information on hardline republicans were revealed this week by so-called UVF ‘supergrass’ Gary Haggarty.
The details were revealed in court papers linked to Haggarty, who has turned state’s evidence. The 42-year-old faces a record 212 charges relating to his time in the Mount Vernon UVF in north Belfast, under the leadership of police Special Branch agent Mark Haddock.
One of the charges includes information in his possession on December 31 2004, including “a document containing information relating to the names of dissident republican targets”. The names on the document have not been made public.
But in other documents, loyalists plotted to assassinate senior Sinn Fein supporters and a high-profile community worker in the weeks before and after their 1994 ‘ceasefire’.
This week saw the 20th anniversary of that statement by the so-called ‘Combined Loyalist Military Command’.
Among those named as potential UVF targets in 1994 are leading Ardoyne republicans Eddie Copeland and Paul De Lucia; Leo Martin, one of the founding members of the Provisional IRA, who died in February 2011, and New Lodge brothers Michael and John Donnelly, who both survived previous loyalist murder bids.
The Donnelly brothers were also being targeted shortly after the ceasefire statement of October 13 1994, confirming the bogus nature of that statement. Haggarty also revealed that the Mount Vernon UVF planned to murder community worker Liam Maskey, a brother of both West Belfast Sinn Fein MP Paul Maskey.
Haggarty is now believed to be living at a secret location in England. He is expected to plead guilty to conspiring to murder Copeland and de Lucia on dates between March and July 1994.
Mr Copeland said neither the police nor prosecutors had informed him he was to be named on the charge sheets.
“The information they had was totally false, they named places I’d never even been in. I’d no idea Haggarty was to be charged with trying to kill me. No-one has ever informed me it was to be among his charges.
“I now think that Haggarty’s handlers were feeding him false information in order to stoke things up and have me killed before the loyalist ceasefire.”
The list of charges spanning a 16-year period between 1991 and 2007 presents a remarkable insight into the workings of the Mount Vernon gang under the leadership of double-agent Haddock. They include involvement in five murders, including that of Sean McDermott, a 37-year-old Catholic killed in a sectarian attack in August 1994.