Belfast Telegraph

Michelle O'Neill: 'Not for me to say that I believe Mairia Cahill'

By David Young

Sinn Fein's Northern Ireland leader has declined to state clearly whether she believes Mairia Cahill.

Michelle O'Neill was asked twice in a BBC Inside Politics interview if she believed Ms Cahill's account of the abuse she said she suffered in the 1990s by an IRA member.

"I don't think that that's an issue for me," Mrs O'Neill said.

"Mairia Cahill went to the courts, her and others. I commend Mairia for the fact that she waived her anonymity and she put herself out there in public, which isn't easy to do, particularly whenever you have been a victim and been through so much.

"So I think, for me, all I can say is put on record that I am glad that today we have robust procedures in place and we will stand over those procedures."

Asked again by interviewer Mark Devenport whether she believed Ms Cahill, Ms O'Neill added: "I think that's the wrong place for us to go, Mark. Mairia Cahill went through the courts, as did a number of other women.

"It's not for me to say that I believe her.

"I believe that she has been a victim, and I believe that she has been hurt. I believe that she has been traumatised.

"I believe that she has been through an awful lot in recent years, or ever since the incident that she refers to, so I wish her the very, very best for the future."

In the wake of last week's Police Ombudsman report into the PSNI's handling of Ms Cahill's rape allegations, Sinn Fein president Mary Lou McDonald said she 'unreservedly apologised' for the fact that at the time of Ms Cahill's abuse, the party did not have robust procedures in place for mandatory reporting of abuse

In 2010 Ms Cahill told officers she had been sexually abused by alleged IRA member Martin Morris - who was acquitted of rape and IRA membership and denies all wrongdoing - on a number of occasions from 1997 to 1998.

Ombudsman Dr Michael Maguire found that the RUC had information about the alleged abuse 10 years before Ms Cahill's report - but did not act.

Ms Cahill said she reported the sex abuse to senior Sinn Fein figures - and was then subjected to an IRA 'kangaroo court' in which she was forced to confront her attacker.

Last night Ms Cahill described Mrs O'Neill as being "very uncomfortable" during the BBC interview.

"Sinn Fein told everyone I was a liar. And they still can't admit that I told the truth," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

Belfast Telegraph

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