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Latest News

25th October 2014




On this day...

  • 1642 - Confederation of Kilkenny began
  • 1920 - Terence MacSwiney died on hunger strike in Brixton Prison

 


 

"Believing that the British Government has no right in Ireland ...

... never had any right in Ireland, and never can have any right in Ireland. The presence in any one generation of Irishmen - of even a respectable minority -
ready to die to affirm that truth makes that government forever a usurpation and a crime against human progress."

 

 

" ..... I am a casualty of a perennial war that is being fought between the oppressed Irish people and an alien,
oppressive, unwanted regime that refuses to withdraw from our land.

"I believe and stand by the God-given right of the Irish nation to sovereign independence,
and the right of any Irishman or woman to assert this right in armed revolution. That is why I am incarcerated, naked and tortured."

 

 

 

Latest News and the Week in Review

 

 

 

Adams tells Taoiseach action not point-scoring needed for victims
Sinn Féin 25/10/14

Below is the speech delivered by Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams in the Balmoral Hotel this morning:

“The allegations of Maíria Cahill have been at the centre of the media and political system North and South, in recent times.

Nobody doubts that Maíria has been through great distress. I have never doubted that she suffered abuse. And like every citizen she is fully entitled to truth and justice.

Over the course of the past week Maíria Cahill has made serious allegations against myself and named Sinn Féin members.

While I am very mindful of the trauma she has suffered I and the others she has named reject those allegations.

The allegations made by Maíria Cahill have been seized upon in the most cynical, calculated and opportunistic way by our political opponents.

Their aim has little to do with helping victims of abuse, but everything to do with furthering their own narrow political agendas.

The serious and sensitive issues of abuse should be dealt with in a victim-centred way by the appropriate authorities. Instead they have been politicised in the Dáil, the Assembly chamber and in the media.

I am very conscious that a young woman is at the centre of this controversy.

So, let me be very, very clear. Abuse is wrong. It cannot and must not be tolerated.

Let me be equally clear. Sinn Féin has not engaged in any cover-up of abuse at any level of this party.

This accusation is a vile slur on thousands of decent, upstanding republican people right across this island.

Those Sinn Féin members to whom Maíria Cahill spoke, have said that they believed that she had been a victim of abuse, and that she had suffered trauma.

They assure me that they did all that they could to support her.

That is what I did also.

The Taoiseach, the Fianna Fail Leader and some media commentators have also tried to draw comparisons between the actions of Sinn Féin representatives in this case and that of the Catholic Church in dealing with abuse allegations.

A cursory examination of the facts gives the lie to that ridiculous assertion.

The Church hierarchy and the State presided over institutional abuse for decades.

It was a systemic and deliberate practice.

In stark contrast Sinn Féin has encouraged victims to speak out.

All the Sinn Féin memebers who spoke to Mairia Cahill acted in good faith to support her.

They advised her to speak to her family, to seek counselling or to approach social services.

Her uncle Joe Cahill at my request asked her to go to the RUC.

Now even Joe is shamefully depicted as a sex abuser by some of the media. This has been deeply hurtful to his wife Annie, their children and grandchildren.

Whose agenda is served by this despicable rubbish?

Some sections of the media and in particular the Independent Group, have taken these allegations against Sinn Féin, added to them, and reported them as fact.

They speculate with ill-concealed glee about how much damage this controversy will do to me and Sinn Féin.

While rightfully criticising the idea of 'kangaroo courts', they have set themselves up as judge and jury on this issue.

This is not journalism in the normal sense but a campaign with a clear political agenda.

This society is still emerging from decades of conflict.

That conflict caused widespread hurt and suffering, as did the absence of the structures and institutions which are the norm in peaceful democratic societies.

There are many legacy issues arising from the conflict. Sinn Féin accepts our responsibility to help bring about the resolution of these issues. That is not our responsibility alone. The Governments and others must deal with the past also.

Victims include a wider category than those killed or injured.

They include those badly served or mistreated by the forces of the state, or by armed groups including the IRA.

How the various protagonists dealt with the issue of sexual abuse is clearly one of the legacy issues which needs to be resolved as part of the necessary business of dealing with the past.

However there is an onus on us all to meet the needs of victims of abuse and the concerns of the community in the here and now. To do what we can today.

To the maximum extent that this can be dealt with now, it should be dealt with.

I have already set out the circumstances in which the IRA sought to deal with some cases of abuse when asked to do so by families and victims.

I have acknowledged that while IRA volunteers were acting in good faith, the IRA was not equipped to deal with these difficult matters.

But the clock cannot be turned back. Sinn Féin cannot change what happened in the past.

But we can acknowledge failure.

That is what I have done.

Everyone, including us, has a duty to ensure that the mistakes of the past are not repeated.

That is not the responsibility only of Sinn Fein.

IRA actions failed victims of abuse. As Uacharáin Shinn Féin I have acknowledged that. I am sorry for that. And I apologise for that.

This week in the Dáil, the Taoiseach disgracefully twisted and sought to misrepresent what I have said on this issue.

He and the Fianna Fáil leader have shown a callous disregard for the facts as they turned the Dáil chamber into an episode of reality television.

Neither the Taoiseach nor the Fianna Fáil leader has ever sought to meet with me to address the false allegations that they have levelled against me and others in Sinn Féin.

Instead they have rushed into media with their vindictive claims.

Mr Kenny and Mr Martin have done the very thing they accuse Republicans of. They have set aside the judicial process and the rights of citizens before the law. They have ignored the acquittal of those they have accused.

The Taoiseach has claimed that sexual abusers were ‘moved’ – his words, not mine - to “Dublin, Donegal, Louth”.

The Taoiseach has repeatedly claimed that he has knowledge of alleged child abusers from the North but living in the South.

He says that others have given him information identifying these alleged child abusers. He has raised alarm and concern on this issue.

Has the Taoiseach gone to the Gardaí with this information? Has he insisted that those who gave him this information go to the Gardaí?

If not why not?

It is up to the Gardaí or the PSNI to investigate and to prosecute anyone they suspect of child abuse, irrespective of who they are, where they come from or what organisation they may belong to.

I have no knowledge of the claims that the Taoiseach is making.

I have already called on anyone who has any information whatsoever about any case of sexual abuse to come forward to the authorities North or South.

They will have the full support of Sinn Féin in so doing.

No one should be living in fear and no child should be at risk.

I am calling on any former IRA Volunteers, who may have any information about any allegations of sexual abuse to pass this on to the appropriate authorities.

That is, the PSNI, An Garda Siochána, Social Services, the HSE or any of the advocacy groups or helplines which deal with sexual abuse cases.

This could also be done through any of the statutory and voluntary organisations which offer confidential 24 hour helplines.

These agencies are properly equipped to pursue these matters.

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.

Republicans are reflective of wider Irish society. Abusers can be found in all walks of life. Any abuser within republicanism, has done grievous wrongs to their victims and sullied our cause.

But they are not in any way representative of the thousands, or tens of thousands of republican activists who served the republican cause in the ranks of the IRA, and Sinn Féin.

They are not representative of the tens of thousands of republican prisoners who served hard time for the republican cause.

Or of our Patriot dead.

There are republican families in every parish in Ireland.

Good men and women who have kept in faith in hard times.

There are ten thousand citizens in the ranks of Sinn Féin today representing hundreds of thousands of republican voters the length and breadth of this island.

The politicisation of this issue by An Taoiseach and the Fiánna Fail Leader comes at a time when we present a real alternative to the conservative parties that have failed citizens since Partition.

When challenged by me in the Dáil, Mr Kenny conceded that there are many decent people in Sinn Féin.

Let me tell you Taoiseach, we don’t need you to tell us that.

We know that.

We also know that we are not part of any conspiracy to protect child abusers or to cover up abuse.

So the difficult issues raised by Mairia Cahill must be addressed.

But there are processes for doing this. They should be applied and respected.

Let us be clear this is not achievable by exploiting her story in a blatant effort to demonise Sinn Féin.”

 

 

 

NI is today like ‘normal garrison’, says MoD
News Letter 25/10/14

Official figures reveal just how steeply the number of troops in the Province has declined in recent years.

The MoD’s statistics department gives a tally of how many members of the military are based in the UK and internationally, and its most recent batch of data – covering July 2014 – shows that Northern Ireland had 1,830 regular personnel stationed in it.

This is lower than Wales (2,560), far below Scotland (10,390), and also lower than all English regions except the north-east.

In June 2004, regular personnel in the Province had numbered 7,690 – meaning there has been cut of 5,860 compared to a decade ago.

The News Letter reveals the figures amid calls by the DUP for a bomb disposal base to be set up in north-west Northern Ireland,

Operation Banner, the long-running security campaign covering the Troubles era, ended in July 2007.

That same month, the MoD recorded 4,480 personnel in the Province.

Then the same time the following year, after Banner had formally drawn to a close, the number stood at 2,950.

Ken Johnston, chief press officer for the MoD in the Province, said that the bulk of the 1,800-or-so regular troops now in Northern Ireland are part of 38 Irish Brigade, headquartered at Thiepval.

The brigade offers training for overseas deployments.

Their numbers can fluctuate throughout the year.

In addition, he said there are around 2,000 reservists.

A political agreement was put in place that, after Operation Banner, there would be no more than 5,000 troops stationed in the Province.

Asked about the idea of increasing troop levels in Northern Ireland, Mr Johnston said: “We’re a normal garrison... We certainly provide specialist support to the police when they want it. Really the questions have to be asked not of the Army. [It is a case of] what do police require?”

Yesterday, the DUP’s East Londonderry MP Gregory Campbell said that in just five months last year, the Army was called to deal with more than 160 bomb alerts in Northern Ireland – many of them in the north-west.

He said in a statement: “Consideration should be given to having a secure base for an Army bomb disposal unit in the North West to respond speedily to potential bomb attacks.”

 

 

 

Hoax designed to lure police to bomb
UTV News 24/10/14

Police said a bomb found in Strabane was designed to target officers dealing with a hoax device nearby.

Dissident republicans have been blamed for setting the trap in the Ballycolman area of the Co Tyrone town.

Police described the tactic as disgusting saying it was designed to kill officers.

Extensive searches were carried out on Friday after reports a device was thrown at a patrol on Thursday night.

Two suspect devices were found.

Homes were evacuated and a nearby school closed as a precautionary measure.

One of the devices was declared a hoax while the other was described as viable.

Chief Inspector Andy Lemon condemned those responsible.

He said: "Once again we have a viable device clearly designed to kill or maim police but which could have caused indiscriminate harm to this community.

"The manner of this alert suggests that this device was targeted towards the officers dealing with the first device.

"However its placement in the garden of a house a short distance from a school just goes to demonstrate how callous and cold hearted those responsible really are.

"Anyone could have walked into that garden and set off that device.

"The perpetrators have shown no consideration for the people who live here and absolutely no respect for them or their desire to live in peace free from this sort of activity.

"They have put many lives at risk here today and I am thankful that their murderous plan has failed.

"I would once again commend the officers who police Strabane for their continuing bravery in the face of such incidents and I know that all right thinking people stand with us in condemning this attack outright."

Anyone with information has been asked to contact police on the non-emergency number 101 or anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

 

 

 

Stephen Carroll: Dissident republicans to go before Supreme Court
BBC News 24/10/14

Two dissident republicans jailed for the murder of Constable Stephen Carroll are to go before the UK's highest court in a bid to clear their names.

Senior judges in Belfast certified a legal question for lawyers representing Brendan McConville and John Paul Wootton to take to the Supreme Court on Friday.

Both men are currently serving life sentences for the death.

Constable Carroll was the first member of the PSNI to be killed.

He was shot at Lismore Manor, Craigavon, County Armagh, in March 2009.

McConville, 43, of Glenholme Avenue in the town, and 23-year-old Wootton, from Lurgan, were also convicted of possession of an AK47 assault rifle and ammunition with intent to endanger life.

Wootton was further found guilty of attempting to collect information likely to be of use to terrorists.

Last week, Wootton's minimum jail term was increased from 14 to 18 years after the Court of Appeal ruled it was unduly lenient.

The aggravating factors of his still undefined role in the terrorist killing were cited.

McConville is to serve at least 25 years behind bars for his part in the murder.

'DNA'

A circumstantial case against the pair at the non-jury trial involved DNA and other evidence.

Wootton's car was held to have been near the scene of the attack and driven off within minutes of the killing. Gun residue was found on a coat, linked to McConville, that was later recovered from the vehicle.

In May 2014, both men failed in attempts to have their murder convictions overturned.

But their lawyers returned to the Court of Appeal on Friday seeking permission to take their case to the Supreme Court.

A panel chaired by Lord Chief Justice Sir Declan Morgan refused leave.

However, the judges agreed to certify a question that Sir Declan said would "get them through the door into the Supreme Court".

Wootton's solicitor later said: "With my client maintaining his innocence he welcomes the opportunity to continue his fight to clear his name before the Supreme Court."

 

 

 

Former Northern Secretary on Liverpool’s Easter Rising commemoration committee
Nuzhound 24/10/14 (The Irish Post)

A committee has been launched to coordinate commemorations for the 1916 Easter Rising centenary among the Irish community in Liverpool.

The Liverpool Easter 1916 Commemoration Committee was formed at St Michael’s Irish Centre this month, led by chairman and former Shadow Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Dr Kevin McNamara.

Mr McNamara, who served as a British MP for nearly 40 years, is a long-term champion for the Irish in Britain and was among the few voices willing to speak on their behalf at parliamentary level during the height of the Troubles.

While launching the new committee on October 7, he told those gathered of Liverpool’s “significant” contribution to the formation of the “modern state of Ireland”.

Regarding the anniversary celebrations due to take place in 2016, he added: “Our commemoration will be a community commemoration to educate the young and to help us all understand the historical forces at play during this key period in Irish and British History.”

The launch ceremony was attended by John Lyon of the Irish Embassy in London, Dr Kevin Bean, of the Institute of Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool, and a range of community leaders from across the city.

“During the decade of commemoration 1912-1923 the events that define modern Irish history take place, from the signing of the Ulster League and Covenant, through 1916, Partition, and Civil War,” Dr Bean told those gathered.

“It is important that we understand the motives of those from Liverpool who took part in Easter 1916,” he added, “and important that we engage with historical truth, from which we will see a flowering of historical understanding – particularly in this city, which has kept these stories submerged.”

The committee closed the ceremony by calling on Liverpool’s Irish community to come forward with pictures, names and stories of those who took part in Easter 1916, so they can effectively record their contribution.

The group plans to create a publication documenting the involvement of the men and women of Liverpool involved in the rebellion.

They also hope to erect a monument in their honour in the city.

For further information visit www.liverpooleaster1916.wordpress.com

 

 

 

Conor Murphy 'unaware of exiled IRA sex abusers'
BBC News 24/10/14

A Sinn Féin MP has said he has never heard of cases of alleged IRA sex abusers from Northern Ireland being sent to the Republic of Ireland.

On Wednesday, Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny challenged Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams on the issue.

Mr Kenny was speaking after meeting Belfast woman Maíria Cahill, who claims she was raped by a suspected IRA member and that republicans covered it up.

Sinn Féin's Conor Murphy has said he was unaware of republicans being moved.

"I've never heard that in all my life as a republican," he said.

"If people do have information, including the taoiseach [Irish prime minister] in relation to that, then, rather than speaking about it in public forums, they should be bringing that information to the appropriate authorities.

"They would have our full support in doing so, because if there is information in relation to that it must be investigated properly and dealt with properly."

Adams challenged

In the Irish parliament on Wednesday, the Irish prime minister compared the IRA's handling of abuse cases and moving suspected abusers to other jurisdictions with past practice in the Catholic Church.

He challenged Mr Adams to reveal if IRA members from Northern Ireland who were believed to have carried out abuse were sent to the Republic of Ireland.

"Are those people still here? Is this true? Do you know of any activities they are involved in now?" he said.

"These are the most serious matters for everybody. Sexual abuse was rampant in many sectors in Irish society, not alone in paramilitary organisations, but you have responsibility for this, but we need to know."

While he apologised to abuse victims he said were let down by the IRA during the Troubles, Mr Adams did not answer the question about exiled IRA members.

On Friday, the Irish News newspaper said it had learned of six cases of republicans who moved across the border after allegations of sex abuse.

Earlier this month, Ms Cahill waived her right to anonymity to speak to BBC Northern Ireland's Spotlight programme.

She said that in 1997, when she was 16, she was subjected to a 12-month cycle of sexual abuse, including rape, by a man who was believed to be a member of the IRA.

When Ms Cahill later raised the abuse allegations, she said the IRA questioned her repeatedly, often several nights a week, for months about them, before summoning her to a meeting with her alleged abuser in early 2000.

 

 

 

DUP and SF clash over lack of progress after two weeks - blame game begins
Belfast Telegraph 24/10/14

The second week of crisis talks on the future of Stormont has ended without a single meeting involving all parties.

The DUP and Sinn Fein instead blamed each other for the lack of progress.

Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy accused unionists of holding the talks to ransom over the Orange parade dispute in north Belfast.

And DUP MP David Simpson said Sinn Fein was trying to create problems in the talks to divert media attention away from the sex abuse controversy enveloping the party.

Mr Simpson said: "Sinn Fein's spin is nothing more than a crude attempt to divert media attention from the growing number of stories about the PIRA moving sexual abuse predators from one jurisdiction to another."

Mr Murphy said: "We are in the second week of preparatory talks and to date we have no agenda, no timetable, no programme of work or no structure for chairing.

"We told the two governments that we are concerned that we don't have a credible talks process.

"The British Secretary of State continues to engage with the DUP on the issue of the north Belfast Orange Order parade.

"The British Government is clearly playing political footsy with the DUP under the table."

Sinn Fein also blamed the DUP for refusing to take part in a session involving all five Executive parties to work out a full agenda.

But the DUP said it had taken part in three direct meetings with Secretary of State Theresa Villiers, who is chairing the talks, and submitted a document on welfare reform.

Its latest meeting last night included the talks schedule and Mrs Villiers' proposal for a panel of inquiry into the Orange parade at Ardoyne.

On a more positive note, it also emerged that the Executive parties intended to press on with the talks through Stormont's Halloween recess.

The SDLP's Alex Attwood added that the involvement of former US Senator Gary Hart should create a "gear change" in the whole talks process.

While a complete agenda has yet to be agreed, senior NIO sources said they will continue meeting while the Assembly takes next week off.

A senior source also indicated the London and Dublin governments intended to hold a stocktake exercise in early November to assess the prospects for any progress.

But it is thought likely the two days a week negotiations will then continue into December at least.

Quotes

"The DUP and SF spend their time watching each other with their eyes firmly fixed on the elections in 2015 and 2016.

"A talks process and government that stumbles on may be good enough for them. It is not good enough for our people, or good enough for the future."

SDLP MLA Alex Attwood

 

 

 

Sinn Féin: Maíria Cahill 'should meet with Gerry Adams' face-to-face
BBC News 23/10/14

A Sinn Féin minister has said Maíria Cahill, the woman who claims she was raped as a teenager and later interrogated by the IRA, should meet with the party's leader Gerry Adams.

Carál Ní Chuilín was speaking on BBC Northern Ireland's The View programme on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Mr Adams apologised to sex abuse victims "let down" by the IRA during the Troubles.

However, Ms Cahill said his apology was "not enough".

Responding to Ms Cahill's request for a personal apology, Ms Ní Chuilín said: "I believe when Gerry made that apology (on Wednesday) he was speaking to Maíria.

'Full cooperation'

"If Maíria wants a personal apology, I think the best way for Maíria to receive that apology is to sit down with Gerry and do a meeting.

"If what Maíria Cahill is saying is the case - was it appropriate - I'm saying it wasn't. Was it wrong that it happened, it was absolutely wrong that it happened, and I can't be any clearer than that."

Ms Ní Chuilín also said the allegations of abuse and cover-up by the IRA needed to be fully investigated, even if it damaged the party.

Asked if she was happy for the truth to be put in the public domain, regardless of how damaging it could be, she said: "Absolutely."

Ms Ní Chuilín added she believed there should be "full cooperation" and that any information of use to the case should be brought forward to the appropriate authorities.

On Thursday, the deputy first minister, Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness, said he believed Ms Cahill had been raped and said the target now had to be focussed on "the the alleged perpetrator of her rape".

First Minister Peter Robinson said Mr Adams should personally apologise to Ms Cahill.

 

 

 

Outrage at blog claiming Mairia Cahill's alleged rape ordeal was 'year-long sexual liaison'
The Irish Independent 23/10/14

Seamus Finucane shared the blog on his Facebook page

A man who is believed to have been involved in Mairia Cahill’s kangaroo court hearing has lent his support to a blog which describes her alleged rape ordeal as “a year long sexual liaison”.

Seamus Finucane, a leading member of the IRA at the time of the forced inquiry into Ms Cahill’s ordeal, was allegedly one of the men who forced her into a confrontation with her alleged rapist.

Yesterday, he shared a blog on his Facebook page which described the alleged rapist as a man “whom many a 16-year-old would likely fancy”.

He posted the link to a blog by a writer who calls himself “Ruaidri Ua Conchobai” and who pens a regular blog on Northern Irish affairs under the title “Belfast Child”.

In his latest scandalous article, the author wonders whether what happened between Ms Cahill and her alleged abuser was in fact a “year-long clandestine sexual relations between these two people ignited by a lawful but ‘a few cans of beer’ induced seduction by a silver-tongued, musically talented, IRA-powerful type of charmer whom many a 16 year old would likely fancy... it's possible but I don't know, do you?”.

In the Dail this week, Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams sparked outrage after appearing to describe leading IRA figures who subjected Ms Cahill to a kangaroo court-style probe as "decent".

"These are not nameless, anonymous people; these are decent people," he announced to the deathly-silent chamber.


 

 

Michael D Higgins: 'Change must take place' in Northern Ireland
BBC News 23/10/14

Irish President Michael D Higgins has called on the people of Northern Ireland to embrace "change" in dealing with the past.

He was speaking at Queen's University in Belfast at the launch of an event dealing with the legacy of the Troubles.

The president said dealing with the past was an "enormously complex task".

On Friday, the university will hold talks exploring the issues of dealing with Northern Ireland's past.

Speaking on Thursday evening, the president said the biggest changes needed to take place within communities.

"While some very significant gestures can be made by those of us who are in roles of leadership, it is, I repeat, in communities and in popular consciousness, that the most significant and enduring change must take place," he said.

'Shared remembering'

"Now happily, the qualities of closeness and warmth have been the hallmark of relationships between these islands in recent years.

"We owe this transformation to the hard work and courage of those who across generations and borders dedicated themselves to peace in Northern Ireland."

He also said "shared remembering" and continued acknowledgement of the past played an important part in the "journey towards healing, reconciliation and a future released from vengeful reaction".

"Some people argue that the burden of the past is too heavy, too painful, and that we are not capable of providing adequate answers to the multiple of questions still preoccupying and afflicting those directly affected by the violence of the Troubles," he added.

"However great that task may seem, it is not widely accepted that embracing amnesia is not only counter-productive, but in its consequences for victims and relatives, may constitute an immoral position."

 

 

 

DUP 'holding talks to ransom' – SF
UTV News 23/10/14

Sinn Fein has accused the DUP of holding the inter-party talks to ransom over their demand for a commission on the parading dispute at Ardoyne.

Speaking after Thursday's series of bi-lateral talks, Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy reiterated his party's call for the DUP to involve itself fully in the process.

The talks, which began last week, are focusing on budgetary and financial issues, as well as the questions of dealing with the past, parading and flags.

"The process is effectively being held to ransom, in our view, over the north Belfast parading issue," the member of the Sinn Féin negotiating team at Stormont said.

"Until the British government stop playing footsy with the DUP and by association, the PUP, TUV, UVF and UDA about this issue then the very real and serious issues that we're dealing with here in terms of the broad scope of what needs to be talked through and negotiated is not getting started.

"We've had two weeks now of preparatory discussions but nothing of any substance."

Unionists called for an inquiry over the stand-off in north Belfast which started last year following a parade restriction on a return Orange parade.

Mr Murphy said that the DUP has not met with his party in any format as part of the current talks process, meaning there is no agreed agenda, work-plan or timeframe for the talks.

Meanwhile, Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan is in Belfast where he is meeting with Secretary of State Theresa Villiers as well as representatives of the UUP, SDLP, Alliance and Sinn Féin during his visit.

The minister said: "The talks got off to a positive start last week and I am determined to build on that today.

"I will use my time in Belfast to consider with the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the Executive parties how we can best tackle the complex legacy issues, including the very sensitive issue of dealing with the past.

The Minister called for headway to be made in the process.

"Of course there is need for the talks to expand from bi-laterals in small rooms, into the larger arena of collective involvement," he added.

"That is scheduled for the next few weeks, I believe it will happen, I think it's important that it does happen and that everyone is seen to engage around the table collectively rather than individually inside rooms."

It was announced on Tuesday that former US senator Gary Hart had been appointed as envoy to the region to support the process, which follow in the wake of last year's failed negotiations chaired by Dr Richard Haass.

Meanwhile SDLP spokesperson Alex Attwood has said the involvement of Mr Hart should create a 'gear-change' in the all-party talks' process.

He said: "The timely involvement of US Envoy Gary Hart and his Deputy, Greg Burton, should signal a gear change in the talks.

"With only 60 days to Christmas, comprehensive and decisive outcomes must be the measure of the talks.

"The DUP and SF spend their time watching each other with their eyes firmly fixed on the elections in March 2015 and March 2016.

"A talks process and government that stumbles on may be good enough for them. It is not good enough for our people, or good enough for the future, or good enough to decisively address the issues that hold up our politics and Irish democracy."

 

 

 

Martin McGuinness: 'I believe Maíria Cahill was raped'
BBC News 23/10/14

Northern Ireland's Deputy First Minister Sinn Féin's Martin McGuinness has said he believes west Belfast woman Maíria Cahill was raped.

Ms Cahill claimed she was raped as a teenager by a suspected IRA member and later interrogated by the IRA.

The man she accused, Martin Morris, has consistently denied her claims and was acquitted of all charges.

First Minister Peter Robinson said Gerry Adams should personally apologise to Ms Cahill.

Earlier this month, the Belfast woman waived her right to anonymity to speak to BBC Northern Ireland's Spotlight programme.

She said that in 1997, when she was 16, she was subjected to a 12-month cycle of sexual abuse, including rape, by a man who was believed to be a member of the IRA.

Ms Cahill described how the IRA questioned her repeatedly, often several nights a week, for months about the abuse allegations, before summoning her to a meeting with her alleged abuser in early 2000.

On Thursday, Mr McGuinness said: "I believe Maíria Cahill was raped and I, speaking personally, regret that she wasn't able to go into a court and confront the person that she alleged raped her in the same fashion that republicans are being confronted now.

"That has to be the target now. The target has to be the alleged perpetrator of her rape."

First Minister Peter Robinson said: "There is a requirement for a clear apology about the way the issue was handled. Forgetting about the issue of the guilt because there have been legal proceedings.

"In terms of the role that the republican movement played in all of that, there is a requirement for a personal apology to her."

Meanwhile, the solicitor for four others accused of helping to cover up her allegation of rape has said they have been subjected to an "unprecedented media onslaught" since the Spotlight programme was broadcast.

Peter Madden, the legal representative for Padraic Wilson, Seamus Finucane, Briege Wright and Maura McCrory, said that the four had been found not guilty of the offences Ms Cahill has accused them of.

"The cases against my clients were the subject of an intensive and lengthy high-ranking police investigation. They were then prosecuted by the office of the PPS, which was represented at all times in court by an experienced senior and junior counsel. The complainant Maíria Cahill was therefore afforded every available resource the state could offer.

"There were protracted legal arguments relating to the procedures and evidence in these cases. The charge of IRA membership against Padraic Wilson was dismissed by the court at the first opportunity as there was no evidence to support it at all.

"The other charges were to be contested and ultimately Maíria Cahill, the main prosecution witness, was to be cross-examined about her version of events which was not accepted by my clients.

"She refused to allow this to take place and would not participate in the normal method of giving evidence at a trial, where the truth of her version of events would be tested by cross-examination.

"My clients were therefore found not guilty of these offences.

"In any normal society that would be the end of the matter and my clients should have been permitted to go back to their normal lives.

"However, the rule of law has been subverted by the ongoing trial by the media against my clients.

"Their acquittals have been either ignored or devalued."

In the Irish parliament on Wednesday, during a debate on Maíria Cahill, Mr Adams apologised to sex abuse victims "let down" by the IRA during the Troubles.

However, Ms Cahill said Mr Adams' apology was "not enough".

The Public Prosecution Service is to review three court cases linked to Ms Cahill's claims.

 

 

 

Sinn Féin MLA does not believe Cahill cover-up occurred
RTÉ News 23/10/14

A Sinn Féin MLA and junior minister at Stormont has said that when she met Maíria Cahill in 2005, Ms Cahill did not tell her about an internal Sinn Féin inquiry into alleged abuse.

Jennifer McCann said that she does not believe there was a party cover-up.

Ms Cahill says she was raped as a teenager in 1997 by a member of the IRA and later interrogated by the organisation.

Speaking on RTÉ's News At One, Ms McCann said that the discussions with Ms Cahill in 2005 centred on the trauma that she suffered as a result of the alleged abuse.

She says Ms Cahill disclosed the information in confidence and that she advised Ms Cahill to speak to a counsellor, adding that "she respected her confidentiality", adding that she does not know of anything that happened prior to 2005.

Asked if she knows of members of the republican movement being exiled to the Republic of Ireland, she said: "I don't have knowledge of anything like that."

 

 

 

SF TD Toibín: I have no doubt the IRA moved abusers; That was wrong
Breaking News.ie 23/10/14

Pressure is mounting on the Sinn Féin leader to reveal whether sex offenders expelled by the IRA were subsequently moved to the Republic.

Yesterday, Taoiseach Enda Kenny demanded that Gerry Adams confirm whether abusers who committed crimes in the North were placed in safe houses in Donegal, Louth and Dublin.

It followed a meeting between Mairia Cahill and Taoiseach Enda Kenny where Ms Cahill claimed the IRA had moved alleged sex abusers to the Republic to help them escape sanction north of the border.

Sinn Féin TD for Meath West Peadar Toibín said: "I have no doubt that in the IRA's modus operandi of the time, that (abusers) were moved…I have indicated that was wrong."

He said: "You cannot decontextualise what happened in the North because if you do, you fail to understand why it happened."

Speaking to Chris Donoghue on Newstalk Breakfast this morning about the Mairia Cahill case, and asked whether he believed that Gerry Adams knew nothing else about any other cases, Mr Tóibín said that he believed Mr Adams had no more information about any other cases.

 

 

 

Loyalist hit squad planning attack on Republicans
Nuzhound 23/10/14 (Sunday World)

The UVF is actively targeting prominent republicans for assassination.

Far from taking a backward step the loyalist terror group continues to gather intelligence on potential targets.

It is currently recruiting new members across Northern Ireland and stockpiling a new arsenal of weapons.

For 20 years the UVF has been living a lie. In the two decades since the organisation declared a unilateral ceasefire it has continued on a ‘war footing’ with a number of high profile republicans in their sights.

This week the Sunday World was approached by a number of veteran UVF men disgusted at the direction the organisation has taken.

Their story makes a mockery of the sham peace and “hands across the barricades” approach of the UVF and PUP leadership.

They reveal in detail intelligence gathering operations which have targeted high profile republicans such as Seanna Walsh, and former Belfast Lord Mayor Tom Hartley.

Oglaigh na hEireann chief Carl Reilly is a prime target as is Padraig O Muirigh, son of Sinn Fein negotiator Spike Murray.

Veteran republican and former IRA prisoner Seanna Walsh has been a strong supporter of the Sinn Fein peace strategy. hand-picked to deliver the IRA ceasefire in 1994, he remains an integral player in the republican movement.

Sean ‘Spike’ Murray a one time member of the IRA’s Northern Command is also regarded as a key player in the peace process – his son Padraig O Muirigh, a solicitor, is known for his cross community work.

The most baffling among the list of ‘targets’ is former Belfast Lord Major Tom Hartley.

The UVF veterans we spoke to are disillusioned and furious that the organisation they believed they served in good faith has been dragged through the mud, and are disgusted that someone like Hartley should be included as a ‘soft target.’

OnH chief Reilly is a prime target. A UVF squad has been keeping tabs on the north Belfast man’s movements.

But with the dissident republicans largely regarded as a spent force even he is regarded as a soft option.

The Sunday World understands the UVF has been gathering intelligence right up to the current day.

“Our war has run, it was over a long time ago and we bought into the future,” one man told us.

“We now have a dialogue with the republican community; most of us realise the problems of working class communities cross those divides.”

None of that has stopped the post-ceasefire UVF targeting the “old enemy”.

We also reveal an elaborate plan to assassinate one time IRA boss Brian Gillen as he went for a walk at the Bog Meadows on the outskirts of west Belfast.

Every single one of these operations was planned in the years after the UVF ceasefire.

Most startlingly it has been revealed that the UVF planned to bomb a pub just 30 minutes before the ceasefire.

A bomb was constructed and timed to go off half an hour before the UVF ceasefire was to come into place at midnight on October 13, 1994.

Had the no-warning attack on the west Belfast pub, known to be frequented by republican activists, gone ahead it would have caused multiple deaths.

Two carloads of men were in place to carry out the attack, primed and ready to go they were stood down minutes before they were to arm and plant their bomb.

The Sunday World understands the bombing team was backed up by a carload of men armed with Sterling sub machine guns and Browning 9mm handguns.

The eve of ceasefire bomb plan was a deadly indication of how the UVF intended to snub any notion of a peaceful future.

Since former jailhouse boss Gusty Spence announced their cessation the UVF has done little to convince anyone they are interested in peace.

The organisation has murdered 31 people – 29 of them from their own community – while on ceasefire.

The Sunday World can reveal that from the moment Spence issue an “abject and sincere” apology to all victims of loyalist violence the organisation he helped shape has embarked on a programme of rearmament.

It was fully 15 years after their ceasefire announcement before they declared they were ready to out their arms beyond use. In June 2009 General John de Chastelain of the International Commission for Decommissioning announced that the body has witnessed a “major decommissioning event” carried out by the UVF and its sister organisation the Red Hand Commando.

The quantity of material destroyed was not disclosed, but the IICD said it included arms, ammunition, explosives and explosive devices – in reality it was a cosmetic exercise.

We have spoken to veteran UVF men who were present when the Shankill HQ ordered all Brigades to surrender their weapons at a central – and still secret – location.

The Sunday World now understands that rather than appearing to fulfill their promise of decommissioning it was nothing more than an exercise in housekeeping.

We have spoken to members who were present and who have described the process as a massive “cleaning operation.”

Every ounce of explosive, every heavy duty machine gun, assault rifle, handgun and round of ammunition was brought to a single location where every single item was examined.

Our sources have told us every weapon with a history was discarded, every heavy duty weapon, every rusty or defective round was thrown into the decommissioning pot – but everything else was put back in the dumps.

“In short, they used decommissioning. There was no decommissioning, all they did was get rid of the dirty guns and keep the clean ones,” said our source.

The UVF has a cache of guns that have never been fired.

“Still in their grease proof paper,” said our source.

On top of that that they have been busy in the arms buying market.

The UVF has a significant arms cache made up mostly of handguns which are more readily used for assasination bids, indicating a shift from their previous practice of using rifles and heavy duty machine guns.

Senior sources have also told us they have brought in Mac10 sub machine guns and US made M11 9mm pistols which are standard issue to the American Navy.

We have also learned the terror group has brought in a major consignment of Japanese-made imitation AK47s and a large quantity of, as yet unidentified, explosives.

This week PUP leader Billy Hutchinson, a convicted UVF double killer, admitted the paramilitary command structure remained in place. He likened the terror group to the British Army for being in a state of readiness.

 

 

 

Four named in Maíria Cahill case claim ‘trial by media’
The Irish Times 23/10/14

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.

Dáil exchanges

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.

 

 

 

Ó Muilleoir to be Westminster candidate
UTV News 22/10/14

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.

 

 

 

Taoiseach challenges Adams on 'safe houses' for sex abusers
Breaking News.ie 22/10/14

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".

 

 

 

Gerry Adams apologises to abuse victims let down by IRA
Sinn Féin 22/10/14

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 Maíria Cahill.

 

 

 

Oireachtas Justice Committee may call in Cahill and Adams
The Irish Times 22/10/14

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.

Sharp exchanges

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.

Strong criticism

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”.

 

 

 

NI political talks: US appoints Gary Hart as envoy
BBC News 21/10/14

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.

 

 

 

PPS announces review of Maíria Cahill cases
BBC News 21/10/14

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.

 

 

 

Ombudsman critical over on-the-runs
Belfast Telegraph 21/10/14

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."

 

 

 

Taoiseach believes ‘more cases to follow’ alleged republican cover-up of sex abuse
The Irish Times 20/10/14

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.

‘Utterly despicable’

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.

Admission welcomed

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.”

 

 

 

Victims stage Stormont protest
Belfast Telegraph 20/10/14

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."

 

 

 

Mairia Cahill says Gerry Adams was recruited into the IRA by her grandfather
Belfast Telegraph 20/10/14

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."

 

 

 

Mary Lou McDonald joins Gerry Adams in admitting she knew about IRA 'sex abuse courts'
Belfast Telegraph 20/10//14

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.

 

 

 

Máiria Cahill calls on Adams to quit
Breaking News.ie 20/10/14

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."

 

 

 

Party backs Gerry Adams over Maíria Cahill allegations
The Irish Times 20/10/14

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.”

‘Very tragic’

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.

 

 

 

How Republicans dealt with allegations of child abuse - an article by Gerry Adams TD
Sinn Féin 19/10/14

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.

 

 

 

‘Who axed Sunday murder probe fund?’
Nuzhound 19/10/14 (Derry Journal)

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.