Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein still engaged in live cover-up says Cahill as rulebook discovered

By Mark Edwards and Philip Ryan

A Sinn Fein rulebook has revealed party branches kept a roll of members at the time it is alleged that Mairia Cahill's suspected abuser was suspended from the party.

Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald has previously said she didn't know if Martin Morris was suspended from Sinn Fein as the party's "record-keeping was not as it is now, 20 years ago".

However, a copy of its constitution and rules from 1999 unearthed by the Irish Independent states all party cumann [branches] had to hold in "strict custody a roll of its members".

The rulebook was published in October 1999 and states this membership roll and other financial documents "shall be open to inspections by the Comhairle ceantair [party officers] and Ard Comhairle [National Executive] members".

A Police Ombudsman investigation into Ms Cahill's rape claims suggested Mr Morris was suspended from Sinn Fein in or around 1999 as he was suspected of abusing children. Mr Morris was acquitted of rape when his trial collapsed in 2014 and he denies the allegations.

Ms Cahill alleged the IRA investigated her abuse and was that she was brought "face-to-face" with Mr Morris at Sinn Fein headquarters in Sevastopol Street, Belfast.

Following the publication of the Ombudsman's report, Ms McDonald said she regretted Sinn Fein did not have "rigorous procedures" for dealing with child sex abuse cases at the time of Ms Cahill's alleged ordeal.

However, the 1999 rulebook sets out procedures for suspending members and dealing with sexual assault and harassment allegations.

The rulebook states: "Where allegations of sexual harassment and sexual assault are made, they should be referred to An Ard Comhairle."

The document says all charges against members must be made in writing and signed.

Members accused of an infringement of party rules are given a copy of the written complaint and asked to appear at a Sinn Fein meeting.

The rulebook states that the An Ard Comhairle [leadership] has the power by a two thirds majority to suspend any member before a duly convened meeting called for that purpose.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Ms Cahill said: "Sinn Fein have always side-stepped the question whether there was an IRA investigation or not into my abuse.

"It is not credible for Sinn Fein to say they are not aware of an IRA investigation when some of those investigators remain very prominent members of Sinn Fein.

"Sinn Fein have stood by them and in my opinion there is still a live cover-up."

In a statement Sinn Fein said the party rules from 1999 didn't contradict Ms McDonald's comments on Ms Cahill.

A spokesperson said: "This document in no way contradicts Mary Lou McDonald's comments in relation to Mairia Cahill.

"In fact, it confirms the Sinn Fein president's assertion that the party did not have mandatory reporting as a policy at that time as it does now.

"In relation to the roll of members, it was not as it is now at that time, regardless of what the constitution at the time says.

"We have no record of Mr Morris ever being a member of Sinn Fein and he was certainly never brought before the Sinn Fein Ard Comhairle to discuss any allegations made against him."

With regard to Ms Cahill's comments on the alleged IRA investigation, the spokesperson added: "Sinn Fein has no information regarding the alleged investigation.

"It is for the police and the police only to investigate such matters."

Belfast Telegraph

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