From the Rape Crisis Centre on Sinn Fein’s response to the Sunday Tribune

In addition to the statements from Madden and Finucane and the Sunday Tribune, Eileen Calder has passed on this statement from the Rape Crisis Centre on accusations by Sinn Fein against the Sunday Tribune. Comments are open initially, but given the legal sensibilities around this case they may be suspended without notice at our discretion. So be careful what you say!

PRESS RELEASE – STATEMENT FROM RAPE CRISIS CENTRE RE- SINN FEIN RESPONSE TO THE SUNDAY TRIBUNE.

The Rape Crisis And Sexual Abuse Centre is making the statement following allegations that Suzanne Breen and the Sunday Tribune have manipulated victims of sexual abuse.

The Rape Crisis Centre has known Suzanne Breen for over twenty years and can vouch for her honesty sincerity and courage as an investigative reporter.

She has done tremendous work in allowing survivors of rape and sexual abuse to tell their stories and has exposed cover-ups by those in power. She has always been sensitive professional and caring in her dealings with victims.

We have no reason whatsoever to believe that either Suzanne or the Sunday Tribune has manipulated any survivor of abuse.

We have spoken with Ms Cahill, grand niece of Joe Cahill (who has requested that her first name does not be printed) She is an intelligent professional woman, and she has given us her absolute assurance that it was she who contacted Suzanne Breen to bring her abuse, and the failure of the Republican Movement to deal with it appropriately to public attention.

Ms Cahill has asked us to provide her statement below, to clarify the issue.

“Over the last number of weeks, I watched Aine Tyrell give a very brave and very moving account of the alleged abuse she suffered. I also watched a number of media interviews with members of Sinn Fein afterwards. I was horrified.

I thought long and hard about telling my story. It wasn’t an easy decision. I had every right to do so. I was most certainly not manipulated into giving any interview. I approached the Northern Editor, Suzanne Breen, of my own accord. I wanted other victims to know they were not on their own in cases like this, and I wanted them to know it is possible to recover. I know from the response that I received subsequently from other victims, that it was the right thing to do.

During the interview, Suzanne Breen helped me feel comfortable, spent considerable time with me, and respected and supported me. She acted in a truly ethical and moral fashion. The article printed was an accurate and truthful account of what happened me.

Sinn Fein has stated that Gerry Adams refutes the allegations I made. Gerry Adams first spoke to me about my case in August 2000. I had meetings with him at which I expressed my feelings on the way I was being treated until 2006. I have no interest in attacking Gerry Adams, I have been fond of him at times in my life, he was sympathetic at times. However, I stand by my assertion that my meetings with him were pointless, because there was no resolution

Unbeknownst to the IRA and Sinn Fein, I attended counselling during a good part of their investigation, which I arranged with a counsellor who I knew to be free from republican control. Thankfully that counsellor kept notes. Those notes authenticate my account. Medical records also verify parts of the story.

Sinn Fein has said it is considering suing the Sunday Tribune. If Sinn Fein is challenging the truth of my story, let them sue me. I thank the Sunday Tribune for interviewing me in a highly sensitive way – and for the support I received afterwards. To date, since my story was printed, no-one from Sinn Fein has contacted me to offer the same.

My surname is not important. It does not define me, but it does show that there was no hierarchy of victims. There seems to be however, a hierarchy when it came to perpetrators of abuse.”

Ms ******* Cahill.

The Rape Crisis Centre would also like to add that we have seen copies of documents held by The Sunday Tribune and can verify that no other victim of abuse was manipulated. It would appear to the Rape Crisis Centre that survivors of rape and abuse are being manipulated, as are most of the Northern Press however, Suzanne Breen and the Sunday Tribune are not the culprits.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    Roisin doesn’t strike me as a “brainwashed shinner” although I agree the use of such a loaded term was uncalled for.

  • Roisin

    I’m not smearing her. I’ve called her conduct unprofessional, which it is. Ergo, if there’s a smear, she smeared herself. If you don’t find the outting of a victim, and the defence of the reporter for doing so by someone whose remit is to provide support for the victims of sexual offences, to be unprofessional conduct, well what can I say other than don’t apply for any vacancies where I work.

    [quote]However, you are using a loaded phrase in order to smear Ms Calder because, as a brainwashed Shinner, you have been indoctrinated with a compulsion to undermine the integrity and motives of anyone who questions the policy or practices of your cult.[/quote]

    My comments have largely been confined to the issue relating to the outting of the identity of the victim in the X case.

    My only comments pertaining to the issue of sexual assault, abuse and rape, and the crimes going unreported and unpunished, is to agree with Ms. Calder, and state that it is past time for those responsible, either by their actions and/or inactions (note that “inaction” bit) to be held to account.

    Anything else?

  • Roisin

    Jimmy

    [quote]If so then she was wrong to do so.[/quote]

    People aren’t lying when they say the victim was easily identified (I can understand how those not having local knowledge as many others weren’t able to i.d. her), and she was being named on the internet on Sunday.

    Ms. Breen was clearly wrong to do it, and I’m left wondering why she gave as much personal information as she did (miffed at getting a last minute letter from solicitors??), as the story could clearly have been written without the identifiable information. Irrespective of her motivation for providing that information, Ms. Calder is clearly wrong that the victim identified herself in the IN, and her defence of Ms. Breen on this aspect of the case (and that is the only aspect I’ve been posting about here, and what this thread is about), and more particularly the manner in which she has defended her (blaming the victim for being identified) calls into question her professionalism.

    The least Ms. Breen and the Sunday Tribune could do, and now Ms. Calder, is apologise to the victim.

    The more they defend these actions, the more they appear to be people more concerned with their own reputations than the rights of the victim.

  • Jimmy_Sands

    You make some valid points, but if you’re suggesting that someone who has spent decades running a crisis centre doesn’t care about rape victims then you may be overstating your case.

  • Roisin

    No doubt she cares. No doubt I’m overstating. Unfotunately sometimes something has to be overstated in order to be stated.

    They should all apologise for their mishandling of certain information, and move on to the larger aspects of the case(s), in my ever humble opinon.

  • Mick Fealty

    All,

    There is NEVER anything humble about Roisin’s opinion. And for the record, her opinions should not be ascribed to any political party. She is out in a field of her own when it comes to controlled vitriol.

    She’s had the decency to give Slugger a wide berth for most of the last eight years, but I guess some of the idiocy on this thread has lured her in again.

    Roisin,

    Ms Calder has made her statement partly on the basis of information not publicly available, so it would be rash to rush to judgement on this or any other aspect of this matter.

    I understand the Tribune will be publishing more of the background detail they have about this on Sunday.

  • Ulick

    Why delete Roisin’s posts Mick?

  • Elf-een

    Mick have you not asked why did Ms Calder has seen information that we are not privy to? Did victim x give teh ST permission for her private interview notes to be shown to a stranger for the sole purpose of thet stranger could defend her. Did Ms Breen not threaten to go to jail recently rather than show her notes and we all stood up an applauded her courage. It seem however she will show notes at the drop of a hat but only if it suits her agenda.

  • Ulick

    According to a Sunday Life report from 2008, X had been suspended from SF and the victim knew this. Surely Suzanne Breen also knew this, and if not, does it not throw up questions about why she did not follow-up on the allegations she was hearing?

    The longer this goes on the more parallels are coming into focus between Breen and the fictional Scott Templeton from The Wire. The bad news is that the morally challenged Templeton ends up with Pulitzer Prize for his “reporting”.

  • O-REP

    Elf-een,

    What do you think of Gerry Adams’s role in the sex abuse issues? I only ask because I’m quite convinced you’re a Shinner.

  • Mick Fealty

    Ulick,

    Legal reasons. You have to understand that the legal letters I am getting are all coming in because of the stuff that gets said down here, not up above.

    I respect people’s right to criticise all concerned, including me and Slugger and the Sunday Tribune, but I would only ask that they do so within the law.

    I’ve had to ban three people in the last 12 hours, because of their wrecklessness. I don’t want to have to continue doing so. There are plenty of other discussion sites that are less in the public eye where you can get away with that sort of thing.

  • Elf-een

    “What do you think of Gerry Adams’s role in the sex abuse issues? I only ask because I’m quite convinced you’re a Shinner.”

    I think his role was reprehensible he had a moral duty to his constituents and by staying silent while his brother worked with children he failed his electorate. You’re never going to make it as a detective, sorry try again.

  • O-REP

    Ah well! Just the constant banging on the RCC-Breen agenda had me suspicious.

  • In spite of one disgraceful comment that ‘nationalist women care more about S/F and the movement than they do about children’, most of us recognise the difficulty people within these communities faced.

    All people care about children, indeed there are very few who think rape of anyone is an acceptable part of armed struggle. As for the rape of supporters of the cause, well.

    The RCC has been one of the few places abused women could go to. It is inevitable that people dealing with people, some suffering intense shock and fear, form likes and dislikes, and it is this that has likely lead to misunderstandings. A vulnerable person can be assumed to be stronger than they are, and the vulnerable person can misunderstand a proposal. For some the exposure and resultant shame heaped upon the accused is enough, and for some the exposure engenders a greater sense of shame in the abused. It is not an easy thing to judge and mistakes can happen.

  • Brian MacAodh

    Who was the great “freedom fighter” responsible for these rapes? Why doesn’t someone out him?

  • Jimmy_Sands

    He has been outed elsewhere, but as Mick explained it makes life difficult if people do it here.

  • This courageous man should step forward himself to protect the cause and the party he has ‘fought’ for so long to establish.

  • geraldine

    This is a letter I’ve written on this issue to the newspapers.

    I was very surprised to read the statement from the Rape Crisis Centre NI regarding the dispute between the Sunday Tribune and the woman interviewed by Suzanne Breen about child abuse by the individual referred to as ‘X’.
    In this statement the RCC stated its full support for Breen and said it wanted to verify that there had been “no manipulation” of any victims of abuse by the Sunday Tribune.
    I don’t understand why the RCC believed it was appropriate for a victims’ support and advocacy organisation to become involved in this dispute – let alone why it would actually side with a newspaper against a victim of abuse.
    In acting in this way the RCC has crossed a line and badly damaged its own credibility as a professional, independent organisation that puts the needs of victims and survivors first.
    Anyone who has any experience of abuse or rape, or of working with victims and survivors, knows that victims have the legal right to anonymity. The belief that this right will be protected is a crucial factor in encouraging victims to feel confident enough to report allegations of abuse to the appropriate authorities.
    The woman involved in this legal dispute said in a public statement issued by Madden and Finucane that she did not wish to be publicly identified as a victim of sexual abuse and that her legal representatives informed the Sunday Tribune of this before the publication of the article.
    After assuring the woman details of sexual abuse would not be printed and that she would not be directly or inadvertently identified, the Tribune acted in flagrant disregard of the victim’s wishes and legal rights.
    The woman said the paper had manipulated her and the publication of the article was a breach of her human right to privacy. She said this had caused her and her family deep distress.
    Knowing this, the RCC then issued a statement insinuating that the woman was ‘being manipulated’ – but not by the Sunday Tribune.
    For the RCC to dismiss out of hand the statement of an abuse victim, and to then patronise her by implying she was incapable of deciding to take legal action of her own accord – because the RCC “has known Suzanne Breen” for 20 years – is hard to believe and hard to stomach.
    The supportive statement from the RCC has since been published in another issue of the Sunday Tribune and is being used in a political motivated campaign against a political party. The paper gave no such space to the statement from the victim.
    I fully support the RCC in advocating politically for women’s rights. But intervening in this way against an alleged abuse victim, in order to be a willing pawn in a political and legal dispute, is truly appalling and seriously undermines the confidence many women will have in the RCC as an independent and professional organisation in future.

  • geraldine

    I want to thank you for ensuring this subject stays in the public eye, at least on Slugger.

    I was getting so bored with NI ‘politics as usual’.

    The Robinsons little affair/s I can take or leave. The strongest emotion I feel toward Iris at my age is envy. She and her bigoted party will survive or not, I could care less.

    Children, young boys and girls for the use of, that is what I care about. We all knew of course that for years both sides used children as canon fodder, and screamed ‘abuse’ if any got hurt.

    It appears that some knew of this further, disgusting abuse of power, and did nothing about it. Why is irrelevant. To know that a child is being hurt, to tell them and their parents not to report the crime to the RUC, that is a new and separate crime which must be fully investigated, exposed and punished. All of the perpetrators and their ‘accomplices’ must be dealt with by the judiciary.

    RCC have been doing great work, giving victims a place to be heard and hopefully healed. It is the easiest thing to misunderstand a cry for vengeance and exposure, is sometimes just that a cry, not a demand. If the RCC have misunderstood, they will learn from this.

    We have to ensure that any accused of child abuse and rape also learn, preferably from behind bars.

  • Elf-een

    Pippakin and Geraldine I agree with both of your points and I hope that better accoutablity and work practices by police, social services, political parties and charities who deal with this issue is the one positive aspect that comes from this whole sorry mess.

  • Elf-een

    Totally agree and I am glad there are some in the north prepared to walk that extra mile to get real justice and help to the victims.