Belfast Telegraph

Mary Lou McDonald joins Gerry Adams in admitting she knew about IRA 'sex abuse courts'

By Declan Whooley

Sinn Fein's vice president Mary Lou McDonald says she was aware of the IRA interference in sex cases as outlined by Gerry Adams yesterday.

The Sinn Fein president had been forced to admit the IRA carried out 'kangaroo court' investigations into sex abuse allegations and punished sex offenders, his first admission of IRA involvement in such cases.

Adam's shifting position has come in the wake of Mairia Cahill's claim of a cover-up of her rape by an IRA member when she was just 16-years-old.

In a BBC Spotlight documentary, Ms Cahill (33) said she was interrogated by an internal IRA inquiry when she alleged a senior member of the organisation repeatedly raped her when she was 16-years-old. She also said she met Mr Adams and discussed her allegations.

Speaking on Newstalk's Breakfast Show this morning, McDonald said that while she wasn't condoning the actions taken by the IRA regarding kangaroo courts into sex abuse allegations, she believed it was inevitable in the absence of a police service.

"I was aware of the background as Gerry has set it out," she revealed.

"It was really breakdown of democratic structures, there was no access to police and non-political policing. The people looked for other solutions in their communities. Gerry has pointed out on one hand the very positive outcome of that in terms of restorative justice.

"The truth is there were also negative sides to that such joy riding, drug dealing and abuse. People looked to the IRA to resolve those matters for them."

McDonald believes that the anti-social behaviour was the result of a society in crisis.

"Communities had nowhere else to turn. These were incredibly difficult circumstances so in the absence of a bona-fida police service, inevitably I suppose, there were other responses.

"I'm not pretending for a moment this was a good situation, it clearly wasn't."

"I'm not advertising this as a good thing that happened."

Adams has claimed there is "no corporate way" of verifying if an investigation took place into Ms Cahill's claims because the IRA has been disbanded.

McDonald re-iterated her stance that while she was "deeply sorry" for the "horrific" nature of Ms Cahill's claims, she does believe that there were assertions made against the party that were simply untrue

"I don't accept the implication that every instance of abuse that happened in Republican areas, in Republican households, in households where there was an IRA member, that you can reach the conclusion that I, or the Republicans in Sinn Fein are responsible for that."

"I have said this previously and publicly that Maria was abused, that she was raped. She has consistently said she was traumatised and violated in this way.

"I am deeply, deeply sorry that for horrific experience came into her life. It's very, very difficult to recover from."

"Neither I, nor anyone else from Sinn Fein has any interest in covering up or running away from the circumstances in which people were hurt in this way.

Ms Cahill said last week was "disgusted" by Ms McDonald's comments regarding the allegations.

McDonald did however insist that certain allegations made against the party were simply untrue.

"Specific assertions have been made by Maria in respect of Sinn Fein. She has accused us of covering up abuse. She has asserted that we refused to co-operate with the police on matters pertaining to abuse.

"I want to say categorically that this is not true. It's most unfair and unjust"

"I'm not calling her a liar. Maria has told her story, which is brave of her. She has come out and told her story. In the course of telling that story she has made assertions against Sinn Fein which are untrue. That's the position."

McDonald denied again the accusations that Adams was a member of the IRA and says she has discussed the Cahill case at length with her party leader.

Meanwhile, Sinn Fein's Dessie Ellis told RTE's Morning Ireland programme said there was no "cover up".

Mr Ellis said the IRA carried out investigations when sex abuse was alleged - although he said he wasn't aware of any specific cases.

A team was appointed by "well-standing" IRA members to investigate the allegations, Mr Ellis explained.

Source: Irish Independent

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