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Suspended Sinn Fein councillor still went to meetings

A Sinn Fein councillor, who was suspended from the party following allegations of child abuse, has continued to attend council meetings and receive Government payments.

The councillor is understood to have been questioned by detectives after alleged abuse was reported to the PSNI in spring 2008.

A file was forwarded by the PSNI to the Public Prosecution Service last year and is “under active consideration”.

No charges have so far been brought.

It emerged yesterday that the councillor was suspended “without prejudice” from Sinn Fein when police launched their investigation into the alleged abuse that stems back to the late 1970s.

However, a spokeswoman for the council concerned said the representative is still sitting as a Sinn Fein councillor.

According to council records, during the time of the suspension from Sinn Fein, the representative attended two council meetings — a full council meeting on March 30 and a committee meeting on September 21.

When asked why the representative was working as a Sinn Fein councillor despite the suspension, the party insisted that “the person in question is not a member of Sinn Fein at this time and was suspended from Sinn Fein early last year”.

The councillor declined to comment about the case.

Meanwhile, the councillor’s alleged victim released a statement claiming that Sunday Tribune reports which first detailed the accusations had breached her human rights. The victim said she had not given permission for details of the abuse to be published.

“The editor of the Sunday Tribune gave me an assurance through my solicitors that I would not be identified as someone who has made allegations to the police regarding sexual abuse.”

Sunday Tribune editor Noirin Hegarty strongly refuted the claims, saying journalist Suzanne Breen interviewed the victim at length in the presence of her brother.

Ms Breen “read out word for word the contents as it would appear in the newspaper” during telephone conversations with the victim and her brother.

“They both agreed it was an honest and accurate account of the interview,” she said.

“Last Saturday, the victim, through the solicitors Madden and Finucane, claimed she had never given permission for the interview or allegations to be used. The Sunday Tribune respected her decision to withdraw consent for her identity to be revealed and ran the story without identifying her.”

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