Belfast Telegraph

Report says Sinn Fein members 'did not cooperate' with police in Mairia Cahill abuse probe

Mairia Cahill has called on Mary Lou McDonald to apologise.
Mairia Cahill has called on Mary Lou McDonald to apologise.
Gareth Cross

By Gareth Cross

A Police Ombudsman's report has revealed that Sinn Fein members "did not cooperate" fully with police on their investigation into the sexual abuse case of IRA victim Mairia Cahill.

The findings of the report were first published in September, but the Business Post has identified new information relating to the conduct of Sinn Fein members involved in the investigation.

The Belfast Telegraph has seen documents which say that the Major Investigation Team (MIT) Chief Inspector, who investigated the IRA's own investigation into Ms Cahill's abuse, told Northern Ireland's Police Ombudsman that "none of the Sinn Fein members were going to co-operate with police" and that "he never expected them to provide statements confirming that the IRA had conducted an investigation."

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, who currently serves as an SDLP councillor, had alleged the republican movement's response to her claims was to subject her to an IRA interrogation.

Speaking on Newstalk's breakfast programme on October 20 2014, Sinn Fein President Mary Lou McDonald insisted that Sinn Fein had cooperated with the police investigation into Ms Cahill's abuse.

"Specific assertions have been made by Mairia in respect of Sinn Fein, she has accused us of covering up abuse. She has asserted that we have refused to cooperate with the police and Garda and the PSNI, presumably on matters pertaining to abuse. I want to say again, categorically that is untrue, that is a falsehood." the Dublin Central TD told the programme.

"It's most unfair, it's most unjust to cast a slur such as that against Sinn Fein, against those of us that are members of Sinn Fein and elected representatives of Sinn Fein."

Host Ivan Yates challenged the Dublin Central TD suggesting that Mrs McDonald was "demonizing" Ms Cahill and calling her a liar.

"She has made assertions against Sinn Fein which are untrue, that's it, that's the position," Mrs McDonald replied.

Speaking earlier this week in Dublin Mrs McDonald said she had "no regrets" over her handling of Ms Cahill's case and that she did not think a letter she received from Ms Cahill required a response.

However the Sinn Fein leader did reiterate her "unreserved apology" to Ms Cahill.

The Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland report into police handling of Ms Cahill's case says that Sinn Fein members would not co-operate with the MIT investigation into the IRA's internal investigation of Ms Cahill's abuse.

Police accepted written witness statements from a number of Sinn Fein members in relation to the Public Prosecution Unit's (PPU) investigation of the abuse, including then President Gerry Adams.

A PPU Detective Constable described a meeting with Sinn Fein members to record their statements as "difficult and confrontational".

The Ombudsman's report said that at the meeting the members were advised to submit prepared witness statements by their solicitor.

It said that had Ms Cahill's case gone to full trial "all witnesses could have been compelled to have attended court and to be subject to questioning".

Ms Cahill told The Belfast Telegraph that she has been vindicated, given Mrs McDonald's past comments about her.

"It took me four years to prove I was telling the truth, but the Ombudsman letter proves that Sinn Fein members did not fully cooperate with the police by any normal persons definition. In a matter of child sexual abuse, that is a disgrace," Ms Cahill said.

"Only last week, Sinn Fein were releasing statements telling people that abuse victims should be treated properly. People can see how they treated me once I went public. They have yet to admit that this was wrong, or to take responsibility for it.

"Worse still, they are continuing to assert that their behaviour towards me was correct by not having any regrets. No victim of abuse should ever be treated by a party machine, a leader, or anyone else in this manner."

Ms Cahill called on the Sinn Fein President to meet her face to face and apologise for her conduct.

"I am in the Dail on Tuesday at an event that McDonald is also invited to. If she has any humanity left about her, she will meet with me and apologise to my face for her and Sinn Fein's treatment of me, which she has still yet to admit," the SDLP councillor said.

The Belfast Telegraph has contacted Sinn Fein in relation to this story but has not yet received a response.

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