Belfast Telegraph

McDonald's trial comments left me sickened, says Cahill

By Cormac McQuinn

IRA abuse victim Mairia Cahill has criticised remarks made by Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald, who expressed concern at proceedings in the Belfast rape trial.

Ms Cahill said the comments "sickened me to my stomach" in the wake of how her own allegations of rape against an IRA man were handled by the Republican movement.

Her criticism came after Ms McDonald said that while she had "absolute respect" for the verdict in the Belfast rape case: "I think it was obvious to everyone that the way the trial proceeded was pretty appalling."

Ms McDonald also said she believed the system of legal protections for complainants needed to be improved.

She said: "You are left with a completely unsatisfactory situation where the person raising the complaint has very limited, in this jurisdiction, access to legal advice and an ability to cross-examine and virtually none in the North. That needs to be fixed."

Ms Cahill has been a critic of Sinn Fein since going public about her rape as a teenager at the hands of an alleged IRA member in 1997.

She was later forced to face her abuser at a 'kangaroo court' organised by IRA members. The PSNI did bring a case against the alleged rapist, but it subsequently collapsed. Last night, Ms Cahill said that hearing Ms McDonald's comments about complainants in rape cases "felt like I had been hit by a freight truck".

She said Sinn Fein had never apologised for how she had been treated in her own case. Ms Cahill claimed that there are members of Sinn Fein who had been involved in the IRA kangaroo court.

She said Ms McDonald should expel those members "if she is serious about rape victims being treated properly and sensitively".

Ms Cahill claimed Ms McDonald would not be credible on the issue until she did this.

Sinn Fein did not respond to a request for comment on Ms Cahill's remarks.

The party did release a statement where Ms McDonald said that "victims of sexual assault, north and south, require support, protection and respect for their rights".

Belfast Telegraph

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