Belfast Telegraph

Adams must set record straight

Editor's Viewpoint

The headlines about Sinn Fein's treatment of claims of alleged sex abuse by members in its ranks go on and on. However, there seems to be an elaborate attempt by party representatives to cloud the issue with a web of words.

The public is sick and tired of such evasions, and it is time for clarity at the highest level, in the interests of justice for all.

The latest headlines have been sparked off by Paudie McGahon who alleged on BBC Spotlight that he had been raped by a well-known Provisional IRA figure.

There is now a claim that the man who allegedly raped McGahon also raped a boy of 12 in Dublin, after being moved across the border and given refuge in a series of "safe" houses.

The same man, who it is claimed is a member of a well-known republican family, is also alleged to have attacked two teenagers in Londonderry, and the allegations of abuse were apparently hushed up by a senior Sinn Fein figure.

It is harder to imagine a greater can of worms with which Sinn Fein has to deal, particularly at a time when it wants to be embraced as the party of the people north and south of the border.

Allegations of sexual misbehaviour of the most serious kind do not sit well with a party that is trying to curry public favour.

Child abuse is an obscene and distressing issue, and every political party must make sure that such allegations are handled firmly and with transparency. Unfortunately this cannot be said of Sinn Fein. Gerry Adams, its chief spokesman, has dwelt at length with issues of child abuse involving his own brother, and latterly with allegations of the alleged rapes of Mairia Cahill and now Paudie McGahon by people within the republican movement.

Mr Adams, who is no stranger to the media limelight and its scrutiny, has yet another opportunity to set the record straight on these serious matters, once and for all. If he again fails to do so, people on all sides will come to their own conclusions.

So much time and effort has been given to these distressing developments in murky areas. It is time for everyone to move on and to address the core issues of politics in these times of such huge challenges in the political, social and economic life of both parts of the island.

Belfast Telegraph

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