'Deep regret' over IRA 'abuse' case
It is a matter of deep regret that a man allegedly sexually abused by an IRA member feels let down, Gerry Adams has said.
The Sinn Fein leader was responding to allegations that his party helped cover up the alleged rape of a teenage boy in the early 1990s.
Paudie McGahon, 40, claims he was attacked by a well-known IRA volunteer when his family home in Co Louth was being used as a safe house for on-the-run terrorists.
He also alleges he was subjected to an IRA Kangaroo court after telling a Sinn Fein representative about the alleged abuse in 2002.
Mr Adams said: "I have previously acknowledged that the actions of republicans in the past in dealing with allegations of sexual abuse were inadequate and inappropriate.
"Paudie McGahon clearly feels badly let down.
"Nothing that I may say will change this but it is a matter of deep regret to me.
"I hope that justice is served and support delivered to Mr McGahon."
Mr McGahon claimed the alleged rapist belonged to a prominent republican family from Belfast and warned he would be murdered if he ever spoke about the incident.
"He says 'listen to me, if you ever open your mouth about this to anybody you'll be found on the border roads'," he told a BBC Spotlight documentary due to be aired tonight.
"Many's a person asks me 'why didn't you go to a doctor? Why didn't you go to this?'
"This isn't stuff that you walk into a doctor and say 'your man raped me last night'."
Mr McGahon also claimed that the IRA offered to kill the alleged abuser but exiled him instead.
The case is currently being investigation by An Garda Siochana and detectives are looking into two potential criminal offences - sexual assault and an attempt to pervert the course of justice.
Last year Belfast woman Mairia Cahill made similar allegations against the republican movement.
The 33-year-old claimed she was attacked as a teenager in 1997 by a well known IRA volunteer and that paramilitaries conducted their own inquiry into her account, subjecting her to interrogation and forcing her to confront her alleged attacker.
The man she accused of rape was cleared in court after Ms Cahill withdrew her evidence and charges were dropped against those allegedly involved in the IRA's internal investigation.
The latest sex abuse scandal to engulf Sinn Fein was also raised at the Stormont Assembly where SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly accused the IRA of being involved in the "systematic cover-up of sexual abuse".
"While there may be questions for the justice system to answer the biggest questions are ones that should be directed at the provisional republican movement and its institutionalised systematic cover-up of sexual abuse," said Mrs Kelly, who also sits on the Northern Ireland Policing Board.
NI21 MLA Basil McCrea called for a a single inquiry to look at the issue instead of having "trial by media".
However, the region's Justice Minister David Ford said an all encompassing cross border inquiry could not be conducted until all relevant justice agencies had finished their investigations.
He said: "The reality is that there are a number of issues in the cases highlighted by Mairia Cahill and others which require individual agencies of the justice system in Northern Ireland and individual agencies of the justice system in the Republic to conduct their inquiries; to do their work; to carry out their investigations to see whether there are opportunities for prosecutions.
"The important thing is to allow the relevant agencies to conduct their work and then see after ensuring that there is no interference with the justice system that the appropriate way of examining matter further is then looked at. Whether that be a specific inquiry in Northern Ireland; a related inquiry cross border or whatever.
"We are open to see what is appropriate at that stage.
"But, at this stage we have to allow the work of the (Police) Ombudsman, the Garda Siochana, the PSNI and the DPP (director of public prosecutions) to be carried through."
In the Republic, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin suggested Sinn Fein's dramatic withdrawal of support for welfare reform could be seen as an attempt to distract attention.
"There is a tendency of Sinn Fein, when negative material comes their way, they have a habit of fairly spectacular distractions," Mr Martin said.