Belfast Telegraph

Week of political reverberations follow Mairia Cahill revelations

Mairia with her great-uncle Joe Cahill
Mairia with her great-uncle Joe Cahill
Claire Williamson

By Claire Williamson

A member of one of the best known republican families in Belfast, Mairia Cahill claims she was raped by a suspected IRA man when she was just 16 years old and that it was covered up.

She waived her right to anonymity to tell how the republican movement responded to her allegations by first investigating them, then burying them and imposing a code of silence to protect the movement.

Ms Cahill's great-uncle was Joe Cahill, one of the founders of the Provisional IRA and a long-time ally of Gerry Adams.

In 1997, she says that she underwent a 12-month cycle of sexual abuse, including rape, by a suspected member of the IRA.

Ms Cahill later went to the police in 2010, and a case was brought against the alleged rapist and those said to have been involved in the IRA internal inquiry.

The case collapsed in 2012 and all charges were dropped against the alleged abuser after Ms Cahill withdrew her evidence.

Ms Cahill claims after months of questioning, in early 2000, she was brought face-to-face with her alleged abuser in an IRA kangaroo court session that was supposed to determine the truth.

She also told Spotlight last week about a meeting she had with the Sinn Fein president Mr Adams about her abuse allegations several years ago.

When asked about the meeting with Ms Cahill, he said the rape allegation was not discussed.

"When she did make a complaint to the police some time later, I co-operated with the police investigation," he said.

The allegations sparked a week of political reverberations as Ms Cahill publicly vowed to continue in pursuit of an apology for the alleged cover-up.

The day after the programme aired Stormont's justice committee sought an urgent meeting with Justice Minister David Ford to discuss the allegations.

Mr Adams released a further statement the same day.

On Thursday he said he was "personally horrified" at remarks attributed to him in the programme and said he was happy to meet Ms Cahill.

Ms Cahill met with First Minister Peter Robinson, where she vowed to support abuse victims she said were still too scared to come forward.

She also rejected claims made in a daily newspaper that her great-uncle had been blackmailed into working for British intelligence after he was allegedly secretly photographed abusing a 14-year-old girl.

Speaking after her meeting with Mr Robinson on Monday, Ms Cahill said the meeting had an "extremely positive outcome".

Mr Robinson, in a statement, said: "I want to create the circumstances where no one feels afraid to come forward and speak about the wrongs that have been committed towards them."

Later that day Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness urged anyone who had been the victim of abuse to report it.

On Tuesday the Public Prosecution Service announced that three cases linked to the alleged rape of Ms Cahill are to be reviewed.

Twenty-four hours later Ms Cahill had a meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

Ms Cahill's case was then discussed on Wednesday in the Dail - where Gerry Adams, who is TD for Louth, apologised to sex abuse victims "let down" by the IRA during the Troubles.

Belfast Telegraph


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