Sinn Fein is considering taking legal action against a Sunday newspaper after categorically denying it covered up sex abuse |allegations against fellow republicans — one of them said to be an elected member of the party.
The party issued a statement last night saying it was considering action against Sunday Tribune claims that two republicans suspected of involvement in abuse were not expelled from Sinn Fein.
According to the paper, two women say senior Sinn Fein figures were made aware of their |allegations against the two republicans but did not take action — either by alerting the authorities or expulsion.
Their explosive claims, outlined yesterday, came in the wake of the scandal involving Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams's brother Liam — who is on the run from |police on charges of abusing his daughter.
One of the women, a relative of former IRA leader Joe Cahill, alleged she was repeatedly raped at the age of 16 by a prominent IRA member.
The other alleged victim claimed she was sexually abused as a child by someone who is now an elected Sinn Fein representative in Northern Ireland.
The Sunday Tribune claims to know the identity of this representative.
A Sinn Fein spokesman said the “allegations were founded on innuendo and sensationalism and not facts”.
“Gerry Adams and the party |refute absolutely any allegation of covering up instances of abuse,” he said.
“Our position on these matters is crystal clear. At all times the welfare of children is paramount. The people who should investigate allegations of abuse are the statutory authorities charged with this task — the PSNI/Garda and the Social Services.
“If an allegation of sexual abuse is made against a Sinn Fein member the party ensures that the matter is reported to the relevant statutory authorities. The member is suspended from the party without prejudice.
“This is in contrast to other political parties which have allowed members against whom allegations are being made to remain politically active until the completion of the legal process.
“A Sinn Fein representative is suspended without prejudice from party membership and all party activities, including work as a public representative.
“This suspension was activated after the PSNI commenced an investigation into an allegation of historic abuse.
“It is not the job of Sinn Fein to establish guilt or innocence and we will await the outcome of the police investigation.”
The allegations come at a time when Mr Adams is facing tough questions over his handling of sex charges against his brother Liam.
His younger brother is wanted by the authorities north of the border to face charges of abusing his daughter Aine Tyrell in the 1970s and 80s.
The high profile republican has faced repeated queries about his handling of the allegations, which he became aware of in 1987, since Ms Tyrell went public last month.
In particular, he has been forced to defend claims he did not do enough to inform the authorities when he found out his estranged brother was working with youth groups in west Belfast and in the Republic over the last 15 years.
This week he was also forced to explain how he did not know his brother worked for Sinn Fein in the heart of his own parliamentary constituency.
Liam Adams chaired a local branch of Sinn Fein in west Belfast in 2000 — three years after his elder brother claimed he had him expelled from party ranks in Co Louth in the Republic.