Belfast Telegraph

Mairia Cahill: 'I want admittance, not an apology. It's the very least I deserve'

Rape victim Mairia Cahill expresses disgust at her 'shameful' treatment by Sinn Fein and the IRA and pleads with them to give her closure

If I had a pound for every time I was frustrated by Sinn Fein's response to my case, I would be a millionaire. When it comes to textbook 'how not to treat rape victims for dummies', Sinn Fein ignored the manual.

My Ombudsman report including paragraphs that RUC and Special Branch contemporaneous intelligence indicated that my abuser had abused children and that the IRA was investigating it, and that Sinn Fein had expelled him (three years after I know they were aware), was given to me over a month ago. I thought that would be the end of the matter. Here we now had independent evidence that showed I had been telling the truth. After four years of Sinn Fein obfuscation, I thought they would finally come clean. Not so. Mary Lou McDonald issued an apology - not to me - but for what she maintains was the party not having procedures in place, and that, for them, was supposed to be 'finito'.

Treating a victim of sex abuse shamefully again, was supposed to go unnoticed, dressed up in a response that I described then as woefully inadequate. I should have said it was a f*****g disgrace.

Unfortunately for them, it exploded at the start of the campaign launch for Liadh Ni Riada, and has followed her around since as she has attempted to pitch herself to the public. Unfairly, when it should be Adams and McDonald answering questions, she has been left to carry the can for something she wasn't even involved in.

But, she is the Sinn Fein candidate in this election, and in the absence of her party president doing the decent thing, the responsibility now rests with her to provide closure to me.

If I was her, I'd be raging at the position the party has put her in.

The pressure of the last number of weeks has been unbearably stressful for me, as I have had to listen to their candidate repeat the same mantra about me, without ever having spoken to me. I haven't had the same right of reply that I ordinarily would have, and instead have been reliant on journalists to ask the questions to obtain answers that expose Sinn Fein's treatment of me.

The information in the Ombudsman report, not all of which is in the public domain yet, hit me like a ton of bricks, and Sinn Fein's mealy-mouthed double-speak response, equally so. I became ill, woke up one day a few weeks ago with no feeling in my left hand side, and ended up in accident and emergency. Although some feeling to my limbs has returned since, I, nor anyone else knows if the nerve paralysis which caused me to lose full sensation of my tongue and face in particular is permanent, and I am angry as hell that once again, other people's actions have caused me damage.

So, you can forgive me for being particularly p****d off to hear Liadh Ni Riada say the following during the week in an online interview; "Well firstly I think what happened to Mairia Cahill was dreadful, I can't even imagine as a woman what she's gone through and I don't think anything that I say or that Mary Lou or anybody else says will ever go far enough to apologise for that, you're never going to undo that and I think it's how we learn lessons and how we treat people in going forward."

That's that then, according to Liadh.

Let me be clear again, for anyone, including Liadh Ni Riada, who may have had their head in a bunker for the last four years when I was bearing a deeply personal horrendous experience in my life to the general public, and traduced by Sinn Fein for doing so, and so may have missed it; I did not ask the IRA to involve themselves. A member of Sinn Fein did that - a year after I disclosed to her looking for a shoulder to cry on. Instead of being a responsible adult and reporting it to the authorities, this person, who learned of the abuse while it was still continuing, chose to say nothing - except to republicans, and without my knowledge. The IRA then came to me and it was clear that when they did so, they had known about it for months. They chose to investigate to protect their reputation, and that of one of their members. So, that's what Sinn Fein are referring to when they say they didn't have mandatory procedures. They omitted to say that they did indeed have secret procedures - which the Sinn Fein woman put into motion when she went to the IRA. I note that they didn't apologise for that.

Those procedures involved taking a very vulnerable young girl to a flat in Andersonstown and announcing that they would be "investigating". It involved months of questioning her. It involved bringing her face to face with her rapist. It involved the IRA using Sinn Fein offices, including Gerry Adams's personal office as other venues for their "investigation".

Are we all supposed to ignore this part, Sinn Fein?

The party has a responsibility to admit that they know the IRA investigated my abuse. We all know that they know, and that they have refused to admit this, even when I explicitly said that for closure, that's what I want them to do.

The time has long passed for apologies, and Liadh Ni Riada is right when she says that no apology will ever go far enough.

And yet, Liadh has ignored what I have said publicly over and over again. As has Mary Lou McDonald who has yet to reply to an email I sent her on September 14. That's how much the Sinn Fein president cares about rape victims. So much for her platitudes about women.

I want an admittance, not an apology. I think it's the very least I deserve after 20 years of republican nonsense. After the attacks, the smears, the public graffiti, after the online punishment tweeting which continues today.

And still, Sinn Fein are content to cover up my case by sidestepping. And they expect me, after already being abused, to take this lying down?

It's a cruel and inhumane way to treat any human being, much less a victim of abuse. It's present day secondary victimisation. They are confident they are getting away with it. They may well do, if people don't continue to hold them to account.

Sinn Fein could have avoided my case becoming so prominent over the last four years by simply admitting it and apologising from the start. They chose instead to propel a child sexual abuse victim out into the media over and over again in sheer frustration to counter their powerful political machine which closed ranks and lied, to stamp her out.

It's time they stopped causing me harm. So, I'm leaving my contact details with the offices of this paper. If Liadh really cares enough about this rape victim, she can pick up the phone and provide her with closure.

Independent.ie

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