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Mairia Cahill welcomes Public Prosecution Service review

by Cate McCurry

Published 19/05/2016

Rape victim Mairia Cahill
Rape victim Mairia Cahill

A review is to be launched into how the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) handles complex cases including sexual assault after a previous report found the system let down three rape victims.

Belfast woman Mairia Cahill, whose great-uncle Joe was one of the founders of the Provisional IRA, publicly accused the paramilitary group of covering up her rape and then organising a "kangaroo court" in which she was forced to meet her attacker.

Three trials involving Cahill and two others connected to her revelations collapsed after the three of them withdrew their co-operation as witnesses.

The PPS later apologised to the women - who revealed that an IRA member had abused them as children - for "shortfalls" in the handling of their cases.

Afterwards, Sir Keir Starmer QC launched an investigation into how Ms Cahill's revelations were handled by the PPS and made a series of recommendations last May.

PPS director Barra McGrory QC has now set out the parameters of a probe that will assess if the recommendations have been properly implemented.

The review, which will examine a range of claimed improvements in the PPS's handling of complex cases involving murder and sexual offences, will be carried out by the Criminal Justice Inspection body. Mr McGrory said: "Over the last year, significant work has been carried out to improve the services delivered by the PPS. This has involved accelerating our transformation programme to take forward changes in key areas, including the creation of a new centralised unit of senior prosecutors who will have a single focus on cases involving serious offences."

Welcoming the move, Ms Cahill said: "Other victims will now have a stronger chance of securing justice as a result of changes implemented after Starmer reviewed my cases, and that is the most important thing. Victims deserve the very best service from the agencies tasked to both investigate and prosecute their cases. I can only hope that lessons have been learned."

The report is expected to be completed later this year.

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