Belfast Telegraph

Garda given names of two dozen sex abusers moved by IRA

By Liam Clarke

The Garda has been given the names of at least two dozen republicans accused of sex abuse in Northern Ireland who were moved to the Republic following internal IRA investigations.

Mairia Cahill, who claims that she was regularly raped and sexually abused by the head of an IRA punishment squad as an underage teenager, said that alleged victims were slow to come forward because of fear of reprisals if they accused well-connected republicans.

"Weapons have been decommissioned but fear hasn't," Ms Cahill said.

She was speaking during a fringe meeting at the SDLP annual conference in Belfast on Saturday.

The campaigner called for more resources, north and south, to be devoted to helping victims of sexual harassment and violence.

She commended Meath Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty for giving the Garda the names of eight alleged IRA abusers moved to the south.

"I have passed names to the PSNI myself. At this I am looking well into double figures, well into double figures, probably about four times the figure that Regina Doherty mentioned in the Dail last week."

Ms Cahill comes from a strong Belfast republican family and is a former National Secretary of Ogra Sinn Fein, the party's youth branch.

She has been approached by other victims since she appeared on TV last month.

She compared the IRA's tactics to those of the Catholic Church.

It also moved priests and members of religious orders from one area to another rather than handing them in to the authorities, allowing abuse to continue.

"If you swap the croziers of the Catholic Church for guns you have an absolute replica of the way in which the Catholic Church dealt with these allegations once they surfaced," she said.

She added that in the case of the Catholic Church "you had 10 years before the whole picture started to emerge but this has only been four weeks" [since the TV appearance].

Ms Cahill revealed that she put up with the abuse, which generally took place on a settee, for a year partly through fear.

"Over that first year I considered myself the only victim because I thought that if I repeatedly put myself back into the situation in that house, back to that settee, that I was saving the other children who were also in that house.

"It is something that I have also had to live with for the rest of my life because that strategy didn't work and other people were abused."

Background

Mairia Cahill claims to have been raped and sexually abused by a senior IRA man over 12-month period starting in 1997. She was 16 which was then below the age of consent. She claimed that when she raised the issue with republicans, including Gerry Adams, in 1999 she was forced to meet her alleged abuser and he was moved out of the country.

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