“If an allegation of sexual abuse is made against a Sinn Féin member…”

According to a BBC report

A former Sinn Fein councillor and widow of one of the most senior IRA leaders in Belfast is to be charged with cruelty and sexual offences.

The report doesn’t give a source – I’m assuming it was the Public Prosecution Service – nor an indication of when the charges will be put.

The BBC report comes in the wake of a weekend report in the Irish News where the alleged victim, Mary Meehan, waived her right to anonymity to express concern at the length of time it was taking for a decision on a prosecution of her step-mother Breige Meehan on allegations of physical and mental abuse.

When the allegations were made public in January 2010, this was Sinn Fein’s response in the North Belfast News

North Belfast Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín told the North Belfast News the party informed Social Services that Briege Meehan had been suspended last year.

“Early last year a  Sinn Féin councillor was suspended without prejudice from the party as soon as we were made aware of a PSNI investigation. Sinn Féin wrote to the appropriate statutory body to make this known to them in accordance with the parties obligations and  due process,” she said.

“If an allegation of sexual abuse is made against a Sinn Féin member, the party ensures that the matter is reported to the relevant statutory authorities. The member is suspended from the party without prejudice.”

Cllr Meehan eventually resigned from Newtownabbey Council in March 2010 citing “ill health” as the reason, but had continued to attend meetings until at least 21 September 2009 [Word document].

When she was replaced on the Council by an Alliance Party nominee Sinn Féin’s Gerry Kelly said that the party would be “examining our legal options”.

And it’s probably worth bearing in mind this from the Sunday Tribune report from January this year – where the alleged victim’s identity was concealed

In spring 2008, the victim and her two brothers went to the PSNI to make statements about X. She says a police report was sent to the Public Prosecution Service seven months ago, but she is perplexed as to why X still hasn’t been charged: “I want X in court. I want X to admit what was done to me. I can’t move on with my life until I get justice.”

Her brother says that before his sister went to the PSNI, he approached his local Sinn Féin officials. “I spoke to Seán Maguidhir and Pat McLarnon, members of the north Belfast comhairle ceantair, about the situation. I went to these people, whom I knew, because my family lives in north Belfast.

“Both Sinn Féin officials told me X would be suspended from the party pending the legal outcome of the case. They said X would be stood down as a Sinn Féin representative. We were happy with that as a family. When no action was taken, I spoke to the local IRA OC. I’m very disappointed that X continues to hold office for Sinn Féin.”

The victim says: “When I went to the PSNI, another family member informed Gerry Adams face-to-face of what X had done to me. Gerry said he was aware of the stories that X had abused me, but hadn’t known the details. Gerry promised to have X expelled from Sinn Féin immediately. I feel very let down by the republican movement.”