Mairia Cahill: Gerry Adams could be sued for slander by 12 uncles
IRA sex abuse victim Mairia Cahill has reacted furiously to claims made by Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams that she was abused by her uncle.
Ms Cahill (33) said her abuser was not a blood relation, but an uncle through marriage, and Mr Adams' comments on Irish radio could now result in defamation cases from 12 uncles.
Martin Morris was named as Ms Cahill's alleged assailant in Sir Keir Starmer's report into the handling of Ms Cahill's abuse case published on Friday.
Any allegation involving Ms Cahill's blood relatives is entirely unfounded.
Ms Cahill, from west Belfast, a grand-niece of prominent republican Joe Cahill, went to the police in 2010 claiming she was raped as a teenager by Mr Morris in 1997.
She claimed republican paramilitaries conducted their own inquiry and subjected her to interrogation before forcing her to confront her alleged attacker.
The attempted prosecutions of Mr Morris for alleged sex abuse and IRA membership - and four others accused of IRA membership linked to Ms Cahill's claims of a republican cover-up - never got to trial because Ms Cahill and two other women withdrew their evidence.
Sir Keir's report said the three had been "let down" by the PPS's handling of the cases.
It said errors made it "almost inevitable" that the women would pull out of the process.
Ms Cahill, who is strenuously denying the Sinn Fein's leaders allegations, said: "Gerry Adams has sought once again to attack my credibility and using my sex abuse to do so, and that is despicable.
"One day after the release of a report by a world-renowned human rights lawyer and endorsed by the Director of Public Prosecutions in the North - which clearly stated that I was a reliable and credible witness - while Gerry Adams says he accepts the findings, he has once again tried to muddy the waters by attacking my credibility.
"His claim on the national broadcaster that I was attacked by one of my uncles leaves him wide to open to legal actions from any of my relations who feel they could be wrongly identified as a result," she said.
During a live interview on Claire Byrne's radio show, Mr Adams mentioned several times that Ms Cahill was abused by her uncle.
Ms Cahill contacted RTE after Mr Adams' comments were broadcast and asked for a statement to be read out on air. It was read out and RTE decided not to put a recording of Mr Adams comments on the station's website.
Later, when asked if he would like to offer an apology to Ms Cahill for the hurt he has caused her, Mr Adams questioned why it had not been published that she had been abused by her uncle.
Mr Adams told the Irish Independent: "I have huge sympathy for victims of abuse. Incidentally, the man who abused her was her uncle, that doesn't make it any easier but I have yet to read that in your newspaper."
Asked what he meant by this, Mr Adams replied: "Because it is a fact most abuse happens in families. It is a fact that this is not unique to any one community. It affects all classes and all sectors of society. I have huge sympathy for victims of abuse."
Meanwhile, Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has said Mr Adams' claim that Ms Cahill was raped by her uncle is not a party tactic to distance itself from allegations of covering up sex abuse.
She said she was unsure why Mr Adams sought to repeat the comment in interviews. She said she "assumed" Mr Adams was "pointing out that the alleged assailant was a member of the broader family".
"It's not about a tactic and please don't ever imagine that stating that somebody who has been abused or potentially abused in their family circle is to disregard the matter, it's nothing of the case.
"Most abuse happens in those circles," she said.
On Friday Ms Cahill said she had been vindicated by Sir Keir's report heavily criticising prosecutors' handling of her case.
The independent review prompted the Director of Public Prosecutions Barra McGrory QC to apologise to Ms Cahill and two other women who accused the IRA man of abusing them as children.