Belfast Telegraph

Mairia Cahill calls on Sinn Fein to admit IRA investigated sex abuse as TD says he 'absolutely believes her'

By Aoife Moore, PA and David Young

Mairia Cahill has called on the Sinn Fein leadership to clearly admit that the IRA investigated her abuse by a senior republican - and used Sinn Fein offices in Belfast to do so.

Her call comes as Dublin TD Eoin O'Broin said he believes Ms Cahill was a victim of abuse, and said his party leadership also agrees.

The Sinn Fein TD's remarks came after vice president Michelle O'Neill was asked twice in an interview last week if she believed Ms Cahill's account of the alleged abuse she said she suffered by an alleged IRA member and her claims of a cover-up by the republican movement.

The MLA declined to state clearly whether she believed Ms Cahill, and was criticised for her answer by opponents.

In Dublin yesterday, Mr O'Broin said he felt the media had made more of the story than necessary and that Mrs O'Neill believed Ms Cahill's claims.

"I absolutely believe Mairia Cahill was a victim of abuse and I've never said anything different.

"I have to say, I think (Sinn Fein president) Mary Lou (McDonald)'s unreserved apology was important and I echo it here today," he said.

"I don't think Michelle would disagree with either of our statements, I think some people in the media are making more of the interview than that's in it, the party absolutely believe and accept that Mairia Cahill is a victim of abuse."

Last night Ms Cahill continues to press for the Sinn Fein leadership to admit it knew of the IRA investigation into the abuse she suffered as a teenager.

She said: "I know Eoin O'Broin personally. I've known him from around 1996. I think that he should clarify whether the Sinn Fein leadership are prepared to admit that the IRA investigated my abuse.

"Sinn Fein know the IRA investigated my abuse and they know that I was brought face-to-face with my abuser.

"And for the last four years no matter how many times they've been asked the question, they have side-stepped it.

"What they need to do for closure is a not only admit that the IRA investigated my abuse, but they also need to admit that some of those investigation meetings happened in the Sinn Fein headquarters in Sevastopol Street.

"So the party is inextricably linked with this and they need to apologise for it."

Earlier this month, Police Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire delivered a scathing critique into police failings around Ms Cahill's abuse, and also noted that Sinn Fein did not act when Ms Cahill originally made her allegations to senior party figures in 1997, instead waiting for three years to suspend her alleged attacker.

The Sinn Fein leader apologised to Ms Cahill in the wake of the probe.

She said Sinn Fein now had "robust procedures in place" for mandatory reporting of abuse allegations and that she regretted that such procedures were not in place at the time Ms Cahill made her allegations.

But Ms Cahill, now an SDLP councillor, criticised Ms McDonald's statement.

Ms Cahill has claimed Sinn Fein covered up her allegations against one of its members.

Ms Cahill, a great-niece of prominent Belfast republican Joe Cahill, claimed she was sexually abused as a 16-year-old by senior republican and alleged IRA member Martin Morris.

Mr Morris, who denied all wrongdoing, was later acquitted of rape when the case against him collapsed.

Ms Cahill had alleged the republican movement's response to her claims was to subject her to an IRA interrogation.

She also accused Sinn Fein of engaging in a cover-up and waging a campaign to question her integrity ever since she waived her right to anonymity.

Belfast Telegraph

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