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Two alleged victims of rape and IRA cover-ups say they were 'failed miserably' by criminal justice system

By Alan Erwin

Published 28/05/2015

Mairia Cahill waived her right to anonymity
Mairia Cahill waived her right to anonymity

Two alleged victims of rape and IRA cover-ups were "failed miserably" by the criminal justice system, they said today.

Breaking their silence following publication of a damning report into how Northern Ireland's Public Prosecution Service handled their allegations, the women claimed its findings vindicated their decision to withdraw their evidence.

They also accused the PPS of making no real effort to salvage their cases, claiming years of unnecessary delays were "horrendous".

Last week Sir Keir Starmer, a former director of public prosecutions for England and Wales, revealed the findings of his review into three linked cases.

Mairia Cahill, whose great uncle Joe was a founder of the Provisional IRA, claims she was raped by a senior member of the organisation as a teenager.

She claims other high-level IRA members later investigated and covered up her alleged abuse.

Three separate trials later collapsed after Ms Cahill and two other alleged victims withdrew their evidence. Five people were then acquitted of all charges against them.

Sir Keir's report into how the PPS handled the cases identified a series of failings.

It concluded that the prosecution service had taken too long to reach decisions, describing the delays as "unacceptable".

The lead prosecution counsel was also criticised for failing to oppose a request by defence teams to change the order in which the trials were to be held.

Northern Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory has apologised for the failings.

Although Ms Cahill has waived her right to anonymity, the other two alleged victims cannot been identified.

In a joint statement issued through their solicitors Joe Mulholland and Co, the women described how the case has had a "devastating effect" on their personal and private lives.

They said: "There is no doubt that we were failed miserably by the criminal justice system - this report explicitly concludes what we have always maintained."

According to the women questions remain unanswered.

They claimed repeated requests for access to the communications the PPS received from external parties during the course of their case was refused.

"If Barra McGrory was genuinely sorry for the continuous flaws of the PPS during his stewardship then his openness and transparency would be greatly welcomed as opposed to the obstruction we continue to encounter," the statement continued.

Sir Keir's report "vindicates our decision to withdraw our support for the case", the women stated.

"Be under no illusion, it was a huge thing for us to come forward and make a statement to the PSNI.

"For us this case was not about politics or membership of any organisation, but the historic and repeated abuse of us when we were children.

"We had to endure years of unnecessary delay and several trial adjournments at the last minute. This was absolutely horrendous for us and those closes to us."

The alleged victims added: "We are deeply upset that no real effort was made by the PPS or any of the other parties of influence within the criminal justice system to salvage our case and rectify the prosecution's failures when it was first raised by us and then later by our solicitors several years ago.

"The impact of this entire ordeal has had a ripple effect within our families. We would not wish what we have had to endure on anyone; however (we) believe that this report highlights the ineffectiveness of the PPS and therefore the possibility of further victims being denied justice as a result of their failures."

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