Belfast Telegraph

‘I wanted world to know that Mairia Cahill wasn’t the only one to suffer’

Abuse survivor Paudie McGahon tells of his 27-year struggle to expose the truth

Rape victim Paudie McGahon
Rape victim Paudie McGahon

By Paudie McGahon

When Seamus Marley, the former IRA volunteer, was convicted by a jury of raping and abusing me and another man it was like a huge weight had been lifted off our shoulders and I could breathe for the first time in 27 years.

Both me and the other person now want the world to know that we were victims - but now we are survivors, we got justice.

We want to urge other people who were victims of sexual abuse at the hands of IRA members around the country to know that they should no longer be afraid, they will be listened to and believed.

The reason that I have decided to go public is to call on the Garda Commissioner to ensure the gardai proceed the investigation of the other side of this criminal conspiracy - the attempt by Sinn Fein and the IRA to pervert the course of justice and cover up what happened to us when they organised a kangaroo court.

Four of us, including our two wives, have already given gardai full statements, but the decision was taken to get Marley's more serious crimes dealt with first.

This investigation is the only way that victims can be made feel comfortable to come forward knowing that they will be free of intimidation from the republican movement.

It will also expose Sinn Fein's real attitude to the rule of law and the courts of this land.

A kangaroo court made of three people, two men and a woman, which was chaired by Padraic Wilson, the prominent Belfast republican, was organised after we went to Sinn Fein councillor Pearce McGeough.

For the past 27 years I lived in a mental state of despair about what Marley did to me and constant fear of what would happen to me if I ever spoke about it.

In my testimony to the court I said when Marley raped me, he told me that if I ever opened my mouth that I'd be shot and found on a border road... I would be shot dead.

We had been indoctrinated by my father into thinking that volunteers like Marley were brave heroes fighting for the cause, but he was held in even higher esteem than many of the others who came to hideout in our home because his father was Larry Marley, the architect of the great Maze escape in 1983.

That is largely why I chose to bottle it all up and try to get on in life, but it continued to haunt me with plenty of sleepless nights and over-use of alcohol.

And then I found out one day that I had not been Marley's only victim, when another man confided in me that he too had been raped and abused by Marley.

I went with him to Sinn Fein councillor Pearce McGeough, a close friend of my father, and told him what had happened to us.

Up to that time Pearce had no knowledge that Marley was a paedophile.

Some time later Pearce informed us to meet him at a certain time one evening at my father's home.

There was up to 12 IRA members inside and outside the house doing security and Pearce got us to take our mobile phones apart.

Our two wives were with us and they witnessed all of this.

Then myself and the other man were led up to my old bedroom, where my original abuse had taken place, and were then quizzed by three people, a woman and two men.

The man in charge was Padraig Wilson, the top Belfast IRA Army Council member, because I recognised him some time later on TV.

At a second meeting, Wilson told us: "We have him (Marley), we have interrogated him and we just need to know what you want to do with him."

We had three choices: have him shot, beat him or have him expelled.

We are not killers or violent people, so we went for the easiest option, which was to have Marley expelled.

But recently we learned that this too was a lie and Marley was never expelled but instead was actually working with autistic kids in Dublin.

A few years later I went to Sinn Fein again and Arthur Morgan just sent me a letter advising me to go to the gardai and, if I wanted, he or Pearce could go with me.

But I was told later that if I did take that course of action then it could have a detrimental effect on the psychological state of the second victim.

So I sat back and stayed silent.

The final straw for me came in October 2014 when I saw the way Maria Cahill was treated by Sinn Fein after she came forward and described how the IRA organised a kangaroo court to investigate her claims of being raped by a Provo.

The minute I heard her description of what happened I knew she was telling the truth - it was exactly like what we had experienced.

The moment I decided that I was going to the gardai was while watching the debate around the Mairia Cahill situation in the Dail.

I was taken by Mary Lou McDonald's demeanour.

After that I told my story in the Irish Independent and also did an interview with the BBC Spotlight programme.

I wanted the world to know that Mairia Cahill wasn't the only one.

I was aware that I would be seen by some as a traitor or a tout.

I was taking on a powerful monster with limitless resources and a record of burying anyone who ever tried to expose the truth at the centre of its rotten heart.

A few sad childhood rape victims could be easily swatted away and silenced.

A good example of the Sinn Fein response was given by Mid Ulster MP Francie Molloy, who tweeted after the programme and the story appeared: "Another load of rubbish on spotlight tonight.

"Joint Indo bluesh... production".

I wonder what he and his comrades will say this time.

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