Belfast Telegraph

Rape victim Mairia Cahill slams Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald over 'no regrets' claim

By Niall O'Connor

Sinn Fein deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald can no longer speak credibly on issues such as abuse and women's rights, rape victim Mairia Cahill has claimed.

The Belfast woman has reacted angrily after Ms McDonald refused to express any personal regret for Sinn Fein's handling of her abuse allegations.

Ms Cahill rose to public attention in October after she alleged she was raped by a suspected IRA member - but was ordered to take a vow of silence after the movement investigated her claims in a "kangaroo court".

The controversy is believed to have damaged Sinn Fein and its party leader Gerry Adams, as well as Ms McDonald.

But when asked whether she has any personal regrets surrounding Ms Cahill's treatment by Sinn Fein, the Dublin Central TD replied: "I don't."

"Obviously when anybody comes forward as Mairia did with a story of abuse and sexual violence it is profoundly traumatic and very troubling and that is the case for this young woman," she told Claire Byrne on RTE Radio One.

"I feel an immense sense of sympathy and hurt for anybody who's been violated in this way and that's the case for Mairia."

Last night Ms Cahill accused the politician of using "Sinn Fein double-speak" on the issue of abuse.

"Her actions, and the way in which Sinn Fein treated me since I spoke out about my abuse, and further abuse by the IRA and Sinn Fein, were shameful and shocking," Ms Cahill said.

"For her to say she has no regrets is indicative of the fact that she has learned nothing about what is acceptable treatment of a sexual abuse victim.

"She can never speak credibly on the issue of abuse, or rights for women, ever again."

Separately yesterday, Ms McDonald insisted that Mr Adams' leadership was not an issue of debate within Sinn Fein.

This is despite the fact that many Sinn Fein politicians privately believe a new leader is required if the party is to enter government.

"Gerry has my full confidence as leader of our party and I believe that is a broadly held view right across the party," she said.

Ms McDonald added that Sinn Fein's support has increased and consolidated "on Gerry Adams' watch".

Earlier this week, Mr Adams has signalled that he has no plans to step down and insisted he will be re-running for president at the party's ard fheis next spring.

It will be the 32nd time the 66-year-old Louth TD has put his name on the ballot card since he was first elected as party leader in 1983.

The former West Belfast MP has appeared to shrug off a series of scandals, including his handling of two sex abuse cases.

One involved Ms Cahill, while the other concerned his brother Liam's abuse of his daughter.

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