UPDATED: Spotlight investigation to explore republican treatment of ‘abuse’ victim

BBC NI’s Spotlight programme tonight investigates the republican movement’s handling of sexual abuse allegations against a suspected IRA member.

Maíria Cahill has waived her right to anonymity to tell how the republican movement responded to her allegations by first investigating them, then burying them and imposing a code of silence to protect the movement.

She is from one of the republican movement’s most famous families. Her great uncle was Joe Cahill, one of the founders of the Provisional IRA and a long-time ally of Gerry Adams.

At the age of 16, she alleges she was sexually abused by a suspected member of the IRA.  Her alleged abuser denied this and was later acquitted.  But after the alleged abuse ended, Mairia Cahill was summoned to a meeting, she says, with the IRA.

That was the start of, the only word I have for it is interrogation because that’s exactly how it felt,” she tells Spotlight.

After more than six months of questioning Maíria Cahill says that in early 2000, she was brought face-to-face with her alleged abuser in a kangaroo court session that was supposed to determine the truth.

They told me that they were going to read my body language to see who was telling the truth”

The programme will examine what the IRA did following the forced confrontation.

Maíria Cahill also tells Spotlight about a meeting she had, only months later, with the Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams about her abuse allegations.

Maíria Cahill, Gerry Adams
Maíria Cahill, Gerry Adams

The programme will also look at what happened when Maíria Cahill eventually told her story to police and named the IRA’s investigators.

In a statement, Gerry Adams told Spotlight that he co-operated with the PSNI in the course of their investigation.

Spotlight, Tuesday October 14, BBC One Northern Ireland, 10.35pm

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