Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein man's widow facing sex charges

Former Sinn Fein councillor Briege Meehan is to be charged with cruelty and sexual offences, it is understood.

Mrs Meehan, who is the widow of Martin Meehan — one of the most senior IRA leaders in Belfast — was interviewed by police about allegations made by her stepdaughter Mary in February 2009.

A former Newtownabbey councillor, she was suspended by the party after the allegations were made.

Mary, the daughter of the late north Belfast republican, claims to have been abused by Mrs Meehan more than 30 years ago.

Mrs Meehan denies the allegations.

In an interview with the Irish News last week, Mary Meehan criticised the length of time it was taking the Public Prosecution Service to decide whether to bring charges against her stepmother. Mrs Meehan’s solicitor Patricia Coyle said that her client will be “strenuously defending” the allegations and asked for the media to respect her privacy.

“She remains entitled to the presumption of innocence and welcomes the trial process in order to demonstrate her innocence,” she said.

“My client does not intend to engage in the ‘trial by media’ which has been conducted in this case to date.

“We will be advising our client on the impact of previous adverse Press coverage which may now form the basis for future court applications.”

She added: “Mrs Meehan is confident that the public will respect both the trial process and her private family life.”

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