Belfast Telegraph

28 set to expose 'abuse' - Martin

Dozens of victims who were abused as part of an alleged IRA sex abuse cover-up are poised to come forward, the Dail has heard.

Micheal Martin, leader of the senior Opposition party Fianna Fail, said he understood 28 people were planning to expose their alleged abuse at the hands of Provos.

"Many more remain scared," he said.

Mr Martin, a political foe of Sinn Fein, said in a parliamentary debate on alleged abuse by republicans that he spoke last week with a man who said he and his brother were raped by an IRA man in 1992.

It is alleged the abuser was using their family home as a "safe house" at the time while on the run from authorities, in a move facilitated by an elected Sinn Fein representative in Co Louth.

When their father contacted Sinn Fein about the allegations in 2002, the IRA carried out an internal investigation involving a senior party member, and the abuser admitted the rapes and owned up to at least one other victim, Mr Martin said.

The victims were given a choice as to whether the abuser be beaten, executed or exiled from the Republic, it is claimed, and he was later ordered to leave the country.

The two men were offered the services of a "Provisional movement-approved" therapist, said Mr Martin.

The details have since been passed to the Garda.

"These are not isolated cases, " Mr Martin said.

"They are the tip of an iceberg.

"I understand that as many as 28 victims are now discussing how to have the truth of what happened to them acknowledged."

Separately, Regina Doherty, a Fine Gael TD, said she would hand over the names of eight alleged abusers who republicans ordered out of Northern Ireland and who relocated south of the border.

Saying she was "too afraid" to name them in the Dail, the government party representative called on Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams to reveal details of an internal investigation that identified more than 100 sex and physical abuse victims at the hands of individual IRA members.

The allegations were made during a heated three-hour debate, sparked by the high-profile case of Mairia Cahill, a west Belfast woman who has accused the republican movement of covering up her alleged rape by an IRA man.

Enda Kenny accused Sinn Fein and the IRA of a cover-up of sexual abuse going back decades.

The Taoiseach also said Sinn Fein's deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald had "reneged on womanhood" by standing by her leader Mr Adams.

In his attack, Mr Kenny also accused the Provos of banishing abusers to the republic to "prey on our women and childen".

"They covered up the abuse, moved the perpetrators around so the untouchables would remain untouchable," he said, as Ms Cahill watched the debate from the Dail gallery.

"Republicans who thought so much of this Republic that would they honour us with their rapists, gift us their child-abusers.

"Under that elite republican dispensation, Northern Ireland could be scoured, secured and sanctified, while down here, and incognito, their rejects and ejects, their undesirables and exiles could live with, even prey on, our women and children."

Mr Kenny said he did not know who these men were and what they had done since they "arrived among us in their banishment".

Urging Sinn Fein to tell the legitimate authorities the whereabouts of the alleged abusers in the republic, he added: "Down here you 'buried' the dangerous living along with the discarded dead."

Mr Adams, who has been under sustained pressure over the allegations at a time when his party is electorally on the march in the republic, said they highlighted a time in the North where large sections of the population did not trust or engage with the then police service, the RUC.

Many turned to the IRA to enforce a policing role it was ill-equipped to perform, he said, pointing out it was well known alleged criminal offenders including sex abusers were shot or expelled.

"Anecdotal evidence suggests that some went to Britain," he added.

But he denied there was any cover-up.

"The past few weeks has seen a barrage of malicious allegations made against republicans," he said,

"There is one accusation that most, including myself, accept - Mairia Cahill was the victim of sexual abuse.

"I believe her."

Mr Adams said amid a "tsunami of accusations" the alleged abuser had been forgotten and accused some of subverting due process in favour of trial by media.

"I am sorry to say that the Taoiseach, the Fianna Fail Leader and others have no interest in due process or in truth when it comes to attacking me personally or Sinn Fein generally," he said.

"Innuendo, insinuation, distortions and untruths are their preferred weapons of choice."

Accusing other parties of using the case for political gain, Mr Adams said he hoped Ms Cahill got justice.

Now 33, Ms Cahill alleged she was raped by a suspected IRA member when she was a teenager in 1997.

She has further claimed that the IRA conducted its own inquiry into her account, subjecting her to interrogation and forcing her to confront her alleged attacker.

The man she accused of rape was later acquitted of criminal charges in court after Ms Cahill withdrew her evidence and charges were dropped against those allegedly involved in the IRA's internal inquiry.

Tanaiste and Labour leader Joan Burton said the parliamentary debate in Dublin was about providing justice for people who have been abused in the past.

Accusing Mr Adams of protecting the IRA by saying that the events were of their time, she said it was even more sinister when "considered alongside his own inaction in protecting children from his own brother".

Liam Adams was last year sentenced to 16 years in prison for sexually abusing his own daughter Aine.

Under parliamentary privilege, Ms Burton: "In fact we know from Deputy Adams's own court testimony that he did little or nothing to ensure that children were protected.

"For 10 years he allowed his brother to work with children in Belfast and Dundalk - the two constituencies for which Gerry Adams has been a public representative."

Mr Adams said he was gravely offended by the remarks.

"Let me say, on behalf of my family, I take grave offence to many of the comments relating to my family," he said.

"The taunts and comments have been traumatic to my family.

"I have been told not to take these comments personally. That despite what is said in here, to take no notice. That is not good enough. They have been highly offensive."

Paul Murphy, a Socialist Party TD, said the establishment political parties were using Ms Cahill to attack their opponents, as opinion polls show Sinn Fein as either the largest party in the State or neck-and-neck with senior coalition partner Fine Gael.

"I don't believe the establishment parties here in the south have acted in the interests of Mairia, or other victims either, by using this issue in the way they have to strike what are political blows, to use it as a political stick to beat Sinn Fein with, for purposes which relate entirely to their position in the opinion polls," he said.

Ms Cahill's great uncle Joe Cahill was a founder of the Provisional IRA.

Her allegations were originally exposed in the now defunct Sunday Tribune newspaper in January 2010.

A BBC Spotlight programme on the same allegations last month brought the claims back into the political arena.

An independent review has been launched into three prosecution cases linked to Ms Cahill's allegations, to be headed up by human rights lawyer Sir Keir Starmer, a former director of public prosecutions for England and Wales.

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