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DUP calls for Sinn Fein junior minister to stand down over Mairia Cahill row

By Claire Williamson

Sinn Fein junior minister Jennifer McCann should step down because she failed to report abuse claims made by Maíria Cahill, the DUP has claimed.

DUP MLA Paula Bradley said Ms McCann should consider her position, alleging she knew of abuse claims against Ms Cahill, but did nothing.

The remarks were made in the Assembly as Members debated a motion related to the case.

Ms Cahill claims she was raped by an IRA member when she was 16. She also said that the IRA had subjected her to an internal inquiry in 1999 that culminated in her being forced to face her alleged abuser.

Ms Cahill later went to the police, and a case was brought against the man who denied the allegation, but all charges were dropped after she withdrew her evidence.

Ms McCann said: "There was no improper conduct in my actions. I would not cover up or protect anyone who has been accused of rape or sexual abuse."

Ms Bradley said: "Ms McCann, I am sad to say, failed Mairia. She failed to properly support her, to tell the relevant people of the allegations of the abuse, and she failed herself to report the allegations in order to ensure that they could be investigated."

Ms Bradley said that Ms McCann's position was "now untenable" as she has responsibilities for policy relating to historical institutional abuse and young people.

Ms McCann told the chamber: "I feel very strongly that my credibility, not only as junior minister, but also in a personal sense as a woman and, particularly as a mother, is under attack through this disgraceful motion, and what members in this chamber have said, both during this debate, and over the past few weeks."

Ms Cahill last night accused members of the republican movement of attempts to "frighten me to go away" adding that she will continue to expose the alleged "cover-up" of sexual abuse.

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