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Spain to extradite IRA man over sexual abuse claims

By Maeve Sheehan

Published 25/02/2016

A former IRA commander is to be extradited from Spain to face charges in the Republic relating to the sexual abuse of a child.

Spanish police arrested the former Provo chief last night on foot of an extradition warrant.

It is understood he faces four charges relating to the sexual assault of the girl in Dublin more than two decades ago.

Spain confirmed the man was detained by officers in Alicante.

The one-time IRA commander and former senior Sinn Fein activist, who moved abroad a number of years ago, has been under investigation by Garda.

The investigation was launched when the woman made a formal complaint alleging that she had been abused as a minor by a powerful figure in the IRA.

Detectives took detailed statements from both the woman and members of her family.

Last year two senior officers flew to the former IRA commander's home on the Continent after he agreed to be interviewed.

He was questioned over several hours and is believed to have denied the claims.

He was one of the top IRA men in Dublin at the time the abuse is alleged to have occurred.

As a commander during the 1990s he was responsible for sanctioning all IRA operations carried out on the Republic's side of the border.

Garda believe the man was a member of the IRA's so-called southern command in the mid 1990s when Detective Garda Jerry McCabe was murdered during a raid on a postal van in 1996.

It was alleged at the time that the murder had been carried out by a rogue unit which did not have sanction for the shooting.

Four members of the unit were subsequently convicted of killing McCabe.

Shortly after the shooting, the suspect left the Republic and moved abroad.

His arrest and extradition will come as a serious embarrassment to Sinn Fein on the eve of polling day in the Republic.

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has faced a storm of criticism over accusations that the party covered up child abusers and paedophiles in its ranks.

Senator Mairia Cahill, from west Belfast, has claimed she was subjected to an IRA kangaroo court and forced to confront her alleged attacker after she was raped as a teenager.

Paudie McGahon from Co Louth claimed that he was also raped by an IRA man, and subjected to a IRA kangaroo court after he complained to Sinn Fein.

Gardai are now investigating more than 30 alleged IRA abusers.

It is understood that the man now facing extradition was already under investigation by Garda when Ms Cahill first highlighted the alleged cover-up of IRA child abusers on BBC's Spotlight programme.

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