Belfast Telegraph

Sit up and take notice before another child is targeted

Five months after revealing her own story, Mairia Cahill tells of horror at hearing it all again

It is five months since I waived my right to anonymity on the BBC Spotlight programme. I agonised over this decision. At the time, I said that if even one person was helped by my disclosure, it will have been worth it.

Now, Paudie McGahon has come forward to tell of his rape by his alleged abuser, and his treatment at the hands of Sinn Fein and the IRA. Instead of being relieved that someone else has come forward, I am horrified that anyone else was put through a similar experience to my own. I am sick.

Sick physically after an exhausting week. Sick of Sinn Fein denials. Sick to my stomach that the IRA had the self-imposed authority to re-abuse the abused. Sick that as a result, abusers are God knows where, doing God knows what to other people's children. And sick that Sinn Fein have seemingly learned nothing when it comes to matters of child protection. For them, protecting themselves alone is more important.

Before I went public, and since, I have become aware of other cases like mine. I decided, after Sinn Fein denials, to actively try and uncover more detail, to seek out people to talk to, and to agree to requests to speak to people who wanted to bring forward information. All of the information I received I passed to the relevant authorities. It made me sick, too.

I learned of people who the IRA moved to safe houses, who then went on to abuse children. Of young children who made allegations against prominent republicans of unwanted sexual contact, who were told they were lying by family members to stop social services being told because it created an embarrassment for the IRA.

I heard first-hand of allegations that victims were raped at gunpoint, or threatened with being killed so they wouldn't disclose their abuse.

I was told of people who went "on-the-run", who attacked children, and who were then moved on and attacked them again. And, rather than reporting those who confessed, to save other children, these men were moved on - without a thought for the next child that they would sexually abuse.

Of people who admitted abusing children when investigated by the IRA, who later appeared in jobs working with young people, in youth clubs, in schools and in one case in a university.

Of house parties where senior republicans were present when young children disclosed abuse at the hands of a man related to a prominent Sinn Fein person, who was later sent for "help", and never reported to the authorities.

I learned of men who used their positions within the IRA to frighten sexual abuse victims into silence. Women, too.

Of 'Courts of Inquiry', now more commonly known as 'kangaroo courts'. In my own case, the first Court of Inquiry took place for approximately six months. In other cases, it was a matter of days. The lasting damage, and the fright placed on to the victims was the same. The IRA acted as the authority, and they re-traumatised the vulnerable victims in front of them, as they sought to protect their organisation, and the Sinn Fein party. Sick.

There is no shadow of a doubt that these processes existed. Adams has already admitted the IRA dealt in their way with suspected sex offenders. What he neglected to tell you was that when an allegation was made against a high-ranking member, or someone who could have caused embarrassment to the Republican Movement, every effort was made to cover it up - to move the problem somewhere else.

Sinn Fein is engaged in a live cover-up of wide-scale proportion. The IRA (with Sinn Fein's help) unleashed perpetrators into society and told no one about it.

I have told you. Paudie has told you. Others are telling you. Sit up, and take notice before another child is sexually abused by someone who the IRA moved near you.

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