Belfast Telegraph

Minister calls for probe into IRA 'cover-up' of sex abuse

Victim: Paudie McGahon
Victim: Paudie McGahon

By Cormac McQuinn

A senior Irish Government minister has suggested a commission of inquiry is needed into claims that Sinn Fein and the IRA sought to cover up sex abuse with a kangaroo court.

Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty said she fully supports Paudie McGahon who has called for an investigation into the alleged cover-up.

Mr McGahon was raped by IRA man Seamus Marley from Belfast, and he claims that Sinn Fein and the IRA tried to prevent the crime being reported to the gardai.

Marley was recently jailed for seven years for abusing Mr McGahon and another boy two decades ago. Mr McGahon (44) waived his anonymity to speak out.

He has told of how an IRA kangaroo court was convened in 2002 after the victims first brought their abuse allegations to the attention of Louth Sinn Fein councillor Pearse McGeough.

Both Mr McGeough and Sinn Fein have insisted the victims were advised to go to gardai at the time. Mr McGeough - who is a candidate in the local elections - has previously denied that he was involved in the kangaroo court.

Last night Mr McGahon claimed that Sinn Fein and its former leader Gerry Adams "knew all about our allegations against Marley in 2002".

He said: "The IRA told us that they believed our allegations, but still didn't bother to tip off the authorities that he was a risk to children."

He said this "just makes no sense at all and they have a lot of questions to answer about that".

Mr McGahon claimed that Sinn Fein representatives "are guilty of outrageous hypocrisy when they accuse the Church of wrongdoing and covering up for paedophiles when they refuse to confront their own skeletons".

Ms Doherty praised Mr McGahon for the courage he has displayed. She claimed Sinn Fein have "done nothing to assist victims of IRA atrocities and crimes to get answers".

She said she believes Mr McGahon should be provided with "full and frank information" on any attempts to cover up what she said was "this horrendous sex abuse".

She suggested a commission of inquiry into the issue would be a way to do this and added: "An independent probe is the only way to uncover the truth."

Irish Labour Senator Ged Nash argued that Mr McGahon's treatment by Sinn Fein is "unforgivable". He claimed that Sinn Fein had "put the party before the victim" and argued that no amount of "carefully crafted spin and empty statements" will "undo the damage done".

Abuse victim Mairia Cahill said Mr McGeough should "absolutely not be running in any type of election".

She accused him of failing to report Marley to the gardai himself when the victims approached him in 2002.

Ms Cahill referred to Mr McGeough's statement from the weekend. Mr McGeough said on Sunday that the party's advice at the time was to bring the allegations of abuse to gardai and added that "as adults that decision was for the victims".

Ms Cahill argued that regardless of the victims being adults at the time, Mr McGeough had a "moral responsibility" to report the abuse to gardai.

Ms Cahill says she was raped as a teenager by an alleged IRA man and was later forced to face her abuser at a kangaroo court. The PSNI brought a case against the alleged rapist but it subsequently collapsed.

Neither Sinn Fein nor Mr McGeough responded to the criticism last night.

At the weekend Sinn Fein commended the victims in the Marley case for their courage in bringing the abuser to justice. A statement said: "The abuser is now in jail, where he should be. We hope the victims and their families get the closure they deserve."

It added: "Sinn Fein's advice was to bring the allegations of abuse to gardai."

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