#SpotlightNI: Rape made known to former west Belfast MLA and kept within Sinn Fein

It’s hard to know what to say about tonight’s Spotlight programme, except to recall that the Swiss psychologist Carl Jung who once noted that the possession of secrets acts like a poison which alienates their possessor from the community.

It was the public confession of Aine Adams in late 2009 that finally persuaded Mairia Cahill to try unburden herself of a secret she had been carrying since she was just 16 years old. The details are clearly still distressing for her to recount, and not simply the rape that she alleges.

Given that on this occasion Sinn Fein appeared to be acting corporately and under the direction of the IRA it is very hard to see how any criticism of these actions can legitimately ignore the political angle here.

It was a study in the extremes an institution will go to in order to protect itself from damage. Although there are questions also for the PSNI, the prosecution service and the alleged behaviour of a former secretary of state for Northern Ireland.

Only six days ago Sue Ramsey resigned as an MLA for West Belfast. Ms Ramsey has been named by Mairia Cahill as one of the first people to hear her allegations of rape at the hands of an IRA volunteer.  This afternoon there were some pretty frantic attempts to get the whole programme injuncted by one of the defendants.

Last November it was this case that Micheal Martin spoke of on Morning Ireland:

From information we have picked up, and we have talked to other people, this may have been a broader trend in the republican movement. Just like the (Catholic) church, that the republican movement saw the institution of the republican movement as more important than individual victims.

In the cases we have become aware of, he (Gerry Adams) would have been aware of as well… and an attempt was made to deal with those internally.

He was immediately slammed (3m40s) by Sinn Fein’s party Vice President Mary Lou McDonald who denied knowing anything about this case (4m50s), despite having privately been briefed directly on the matter..

The question needs to be asked of deputy Martin as to when he received this information and has he passed it on to gardaí?” she said.

That is the only appropriate course of action for any responsible citizen. [Emphasis added]

In that same week, Ms McDonald made this video calling on the Government to take action against violence against women and girls. Even in the midst of budget week in the Republic there are surely some serious questions here that need proper answers?

As for Ms Cahill, one can only hope that such ugly pursuit of the victim ends right here. I’m not sure that any of us clearly understood just what a carte blanche this peace process would be given.

And, of course, it may also make it easier for others to find the courage to tell their stories also…

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  • Jag

    Hi Mick, is there any suggestion that Ms Ramsey’s resignation, on unspecified health grounds*, is in any way linked to the broadcast of this programme? Like the oft-heard opinion that Iris Robinson’s mental health issues were a screen to avoid answering questions on Kirkgate. Obviously if the woman, Ms Ramsey, has cancer, God forbid, then that suggestion, if it is a suggestion, wouldn’t be very credible. Has Ms Ramsey confirmed or indicated what her health issues are.

    *GA paid tribute to Ms Ramsey last week, referred to health issues but didn’t go further
    “I am glad to call her my friend. She has a good heart and I hope her health is restored as quickly as possible.”

    http://www.sinnfein.ie/contents/31713

    Separately, you can also link that other rising star of SF (South), Pearse Doherty to a denial of Micheal Martin’s claims

    “The claims by Micheál Martin are unfounded and untrue” – Pearse Doherty

    http://www.thejournal.ie/pearse-doherty-micheal-martin-claims-1197052-Nov2013/

  • Bryan Magee

    Sue Ramsey seemed more reasonable than most MLAs so I would be disappointed if this was true. The present allegations to one side, definitely one of the better MLAs of all parties, judged in terms of her contributions in the chamber and in committee.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I’m no apologist for SF but Ramsey’s resignation on health grounds sounds like it was genuine.

  • mickfealty

    I’ve been taking some legitimate criticism for the wording of that on Twitter. So let me try to clarify.

    I don’t for a minute doubt that Sue is genuinely ill. She’s always struck me as a pretty genuine person as a politician and as a human being. What caught my eye at the time was the speed and haste of that resignation. It was announced at 8.30 in the evening, a clear tactic to blank it as a news item.

    Her mention in the programme as one of the first to know about Ms Cahill’s rape allegation came as a bit of a shock to me personally I have to say. Presumably the matter was passed upwards and she was left with the usual choices. Follow orders, or you know where the door is…

    I will say this. It was not an easy programme to watch, and an even tougher one to write about with any equanimity. And there now is a lot of gruesome bandwagoning, some from unionist politicians who Ms Cahill turned to in her distress but then, when there was no easy political margin in it, did not want to know.

    If anyone, and I mean anyone thinks this is a just a problem for the Republican community they can think long and hard again. They are in fact missing the point that we have some serious problems ongoing not least because too few have yet shown the courage of Ms Cahill.

    Loyalism is going well under the radar on this one. Before anyone mentions Kincora, I’m pretty sure these forms of bestial misogyny cannot be so easily sidebarred or confined to the safe distance of the so called ‘historic past’. If this was happening in the highly organised northern republican movement, what on earth do we think is happening within the anarchic going on nihilistic Loyalist paramilitaries?

    There’s a problem with the protected species approach to this issue that is actually making impossible for the authorities to do their jobs. The result is untold numbers of young men and young women living a miserable lives and keeping awful secrets they fear to share because of what they fear might happen to them.

    Sinn Fein will treat this as a conspiracy or a political attack on their interests. So did the Catholic church. It’s not in essence political at all, though the way these cases have been handled have created a very serious and ongoing political problem.

  • Siún Carden

    Totally agree, except for the ‘not in essence political’ bit. That’s only true if your definition of politics is incredibly narrow. This issue might not spring directly from a party political tug-of-war, but the exclusion of sex and gender and WOMEN from what we think of as ‘political’ here is part of the ongoing problem.

  • Granni Trixie

    You could have named the Spotlight programme, “Here Comes Everybody” – not meaning just the usual suspects in “the Republican Family” but lesser knowns behind the scenes people. The words she attributes to Gerry Adams in a conversation with her is chilling and v telling- along the lines of “abusers are very manipulative but often those who are abused get to like it” (anyone got exact words?).

    I would be interested to know if there is any attempt to sue the BBC by Republicans or indeed former SOS Woodward. If they don’t it will say a lot as surely the allegations are so damaging that any innocent person would want to do so?
    .
    The outcome of the Police Ombodsman investigation into Cahills complaint about how the police dealt with her complaint will be especially fascinating given that the programme not only illustrated a Republican culture of intimidation but also political influences on policing.

    One heartening aspect of the story was the courage of the chair of Falls Women’s Centre in supporting Maria and going public with that support. Each women were totally credible.

  • Michael Henry

    Pull yourself out of a Court case and go for interviews to the BBC-( any other media hanging around with a Check book and pen )-this is a disgraceful way for a alleged victim to behave and is sending out the wrong message to any person who is raped-
    The Courts can sent Rapists to jail- the BBC can not-

  • Jag

    Has there been a delay with putting the programme on iplayer

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006v04h

    Serious people have described it as worth a look, still don’t like idea of BBC acting as some kind of court of appeal.

  • bellefast

    Yes, the person who behaved disgracefully in all of this is the victim. How dare she make a decision not to put her faith in a judicial system which had left her with no evidence for her abuse case! How selfish! When the IRA membership case against Morris fell (due to the PPS not securing McCullough as a prosecution witness despite her many pleas) she lost a huge part of her defense, ie that she knew he was in the IRA and was afraid of him. The only other evidence was her counsellor’s notes, which the Police didn’t bother to get despite having 4 years to do so. What case had she left? Why shouldn’t she spare herself the pain of having to testify – three times in three different cases – when anyone with any sense could see she had no chance of winning? How dare she not put herself and her family through describing what happened to her in great detail for no purpose? The shame. Adams, Sinn Fein and the IRA, on the other hand… all as blameless as newborns.

  • Jag

    “alleged” victim surely, Judge Bellefast.

  • bellefast

    She was the victim of an IRA interrogation. What people seem willfully to be ignoring is this case is not about the abuse per se (which, for the record, I believe her to be the victim of), but that the IRA took it upon themselves to investigate her case and put her in a room with him and allowed HIM to interrogate HER. They covered up suspected abuse, they allowed a suspected abuser to “escape” so he could be free to possibly abuse others, and they didn’t allow her to speak to her own parents about it. That makes her a victim in my eyes, of harassment, of emotional abuse, and all to protect the reputations of others.

  • bellefast

    She was the victim of an IRA interrogation. What people seem willfully to be ignoring is this case is not about the abuse per se (which, for the record, I believe her to be the victim of), but that the IRA took it upon themselves to investigate her case and put her in a room with him and allowed HIM to interrogate HER. They covered up suspected abuse, they allowed a suspected abuser to “escape” so he could be free to possibly abuse others, and they didn’t allow her to speak to her own parents about it. That makes her a victim in my eyes, of harassment, of emotional abuse, and all to protect the reputations of others.

  • NMS

    Michael, surely the spelling of “check” as in a bill of exchange is “cheque”.

    In relation to pulling out of a court case, maybe she didn’t recognise the court?

  • NMS

    Michael, surely the spelling of “check” as in a bill of exchange is “cheque”.

    In relation to pulling out of a court case, maybe she didn’t recognise the court?

  • Jag

    Are you from Ireland or Britain. I don’t think you are otherwise you’d know not to make a fool out of yourself by thinking someone is guilty until proven innocent. Maybe you’re from Mexico or some other banana republic with Napoleanic law.

  • Jag

    Are you from Ireland or Britain. I don’t think you are otherwise you’d know not to make a fool out of yourself by thinking someone is guilty until proven innocent. Maybe you’re from Mexico or some other banana republic with Napoleanic law.

  • Dixie Elliott

    Michael Henrys comment comes as no surprise given that until recently he was a sitting SF councillor in Cookstown Council. He was pushed aside after the Mid-Ulster Mail knocked on his door in regards to online comments he constantly made against victims of suicide. Comments he hadn’t the balls to back up when they knocked.

    When asked by the reporter would he be suing he replied that he didn’t know who to go after. However he did as it was me who exposed him as Michael Henry McIvor online and I in fact put it to him that it was me who exposed him…

  • bellefast

    What new evidence? They had the evidence, they chose not to use it. They didn’t interview McCullough because they “had nothing on him”. You think the BBC found out anything about him the police didn’t already know? She had already told the police about the counsellor’s notes, they didn’t interview them. Maybe you could take a minute off from slagging off the BBC to give your opinion on Adam’s “sometimes the abuser enjoys it” comment. Or is that acceptable as long as he’s not paid with licence payers’ money, just tax payers’?

  • Martin Óg Meehan

    Firstly, I don’t feel I’m well-enough qualified to speak or write enough about rape or sexual abuse and its victims. However, Mairia Cahill should have been advised and taken to the Social Services, once her complaint was made! That should be the first port of call, in all cases of suspected rape and sexual abuse!

    Secondly, I feel that Mairia Cahill, Aine Tyrell and my sister Mary, are long-suffering victims of so-called Republicans were terribly let-down, publicly demonised and side-lined as crazy by the Provisional Movement over the years!

    Lastly I’m aware that in Belfast alone, there are sadly many more victims out there still afraid to speak-out, seek help and get justice. I urge them to speak out!

    ANYONE WHO RAPES OR SEXUALLY ABUSES PEOPLE CANNOT CLAIM TO BE AN IRISH REPUBLICAN!

    GENUINE REPUBLICANS: ‘CHERISH ALL THE CHILDREN OF THE NATION EQUALLY’ AND ‘NO-ONE WHO SERVES THAT CAUSE WILL DISHONOUR IT BY COWARDICE, INHUMANITY OR RAPINE’!

  • Dixie Elliott

    Why was this case put to trial as one of IRA membership instead of rape and child abuse, thus not only putting a major obstacle in front of the victim but leaving her open to abuse from fanatics who claimed she was a tout, thus adding to the pressure for her to withdraw?

    Why were the names withheld if the victim herself wanted them named?

    Why did Shaun Woodward intervene on behalf of one of the accused? Does this send out a message that British politicians can interfere in the system of justice if their interests are at threat?

    And what threat can one girl seeking Justice be to the so called peace process other than expose the fact that those who hide behind that peace process can expect immunity from prosecution?

    Who can have faith in a justice system which might be open to interference on political grounds even in rape cases?

    Given she had been forced to overcome so many obstactles thrown up by the Provisional movement was it no surprise she withdrew when she got to a stage where the very justice system we are told to support throws a wall in her way, blocking off any chance of justice.

  • Michael Henry

    Dixie the exposer on a rape topic-Jesus the man thinks he is a Super Person who moves heaven and earth- I looked up Cookstown council web page and the person you refer to is still a Councillor- check the facts Dixie – the truth can’t hide the lies-

  • Michael Henry

    Adams never said that- a person said that to headline her story on the BBC-

  • Dixie Elliott

    You are still a councilor until the super councils are up and running and you know it, just as you know you’ve been pushed aside….

    And did you or did you not lie to the Mid Ulster Mail when you denied insulting victims of suicide online?

  • Dixie Elliott

    And indeed there are victims in Derry Martin Og…

    “Our revenge will be the laughter of our children” – Bobby Sands

  • Ulick

    Mick, while we are on the topic of who said what, when etc… what I find very odd here is while Pete and yourself are notorious for providing innumerable link-backs in each blog to the Slugger archives, in this instance you aren’t providing any. That is despite the fact I remember the Cahill case being covered here extensively 4 or 5 years ago in the wake of a Suzanne Breen piece in the Sunday Tribune. Would it be too cynical to suggest your reason for not doing is maybe to prevent embarrassment to Ms Cahill lest what was said a few years back contradicts her Spotlight performance?

    My memory is poor enough but some things I remember from previous coverage on here are that Ms Cahill was very specific that the investigation was solely IRA matter, nothing to do with Sinn Féin. Also rather than having met Gerry Adams “in the wake” of the abuse/investigation as she has said in social media this evening, she actually met him in 6 or 7 years later in 2006. The reasons given now as to why she didn’t report the abuse to the police or social services was that she was pressurised and easily influenced due to her young age. However in the previous version when she found out 6 years later the alleged abuser was living in Dongeal, she didn’t report it to the police but instead wanted him brought back to be dealt with by the IRA – this was supposedly the issue and wish she raised with Gerry Adams. I also remember some controversy on this site as Ms Cahill and Eileen Calder were encouraging other abuse victims to contact them instead of the police or other appropriate authorities.

    Now I don’t pretend to know all the facts here and I’m writing this on a phone so I haven’t had a check back on the detail. However given the bandwagon which has been building steam all and is now heaping scorn of Gerry Adams’ account, it’s only fair to point out that there are contradictions and holes all over Ms Cahill’s account and specifically what was posted on this site previously.

  • bellefast

    You know for an actual fact he didn’t say that?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Mick, I think on the specific issue of Sue Ramsey’s resignation as an MLA she deserves the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she just wanted to step down without any fuss or scrutiny so that she can deal with her recovery.

    It is of course appropriate to scrutinize her attitude towards dealing with the rape accusation. I think it is important that we stick with the accusations and how they were handled and by whom.

  • Jag

    Perhaps not unsurprisingly GA has issued a personal statement and has apparently got the lawyers involved.

    http://www.sinnfein.ie/contents/31828

    “I totally refute (sic) the allegations Mairia made about our conversation.”

    I see the iplayer version of the programme, which will be repeated tonight at 11.20pm on BBC2 is now available here

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04lgrlx

  • Comrade Stalin

    Gerry Adams has a history of threatening to sue people and never following through on it.

  • Jag

    You say victim, maybe you’re right but what standard do you apply to extrajudicial proceedings in the middle of a war? Can you reasonably apply any standards given a war judicary isn’t likely to be independent and will want to protect combatants. If the “judgment” would have gone the other way, would Ms Cahill still have been a victim of the process or would she be a beneficiary?

    I’m not being smart, I don’t know how you deal with rough and ready extrajudicial processes during a war. I still think the courts are the appropriate place to deal with these matters today, not the media. As has been shown in recent Yewtree linked cases in the UK, the judiciary can deal with decades-old cases and can secure convictions, though I would guess it would be more difficult for a victim to get justice. But as imperfect as it is, it’s superior to what I understand the BBC programme was (still haven’t see it, probably will at the weekend).

  • Dixie Elliott

    “solely IRA matter, nothing to do with Sinn Féin…”

    Oh aye and who else believes that those IRA members were not also members of SF at that time?

    “Also rather than having met Gerry Adams “in the wake” of the abuse/investigation as she has said in social media this evening, she actually met him in 6 or 7 years later in 2006.”

    The below are taken from Mairia’s Sunday Tribune piece Jan 2010 which refers to events in JULY 2000 and includes….”She then had many heated meetings with the PIRA and with Provisional Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams.”

    “In July 2000, five months after the Provisional IRA had closed its ‘investigation’, two of Cahill’s cousins – then aged 17 and 14 – came forward and said M had sexually abused them two years earlier. People had seen M lifting one of the girls drunk from a social club into a taxi. Neighbours had then watched him carry her from a taxi into his home. The PIRA reopened the investigation. “I told them I wanted nothing to do with it,” Cahill says. “I wanted to go to the Rape Crisis Centre. I said I needed professional help.”

    The Provisional IRA said M was under ‘house arrest’ in Ardoyne. Days later, Cahill was told he had ‘escaped’. Now she confided in her Uncle Joe (80) whom she had wanted to protect from hearing she’d been raped. “He said, ‘If I’d known I’d have told you to go to the RUC. There has been a f**k up of the highest order in the movement.’”

    The word in Belfast was that the Provisional IRA had spirited M away to Donegal. “I don’t believe he escaped,” Cahill says. “The PIRA facilitated him leaving. I never wanted M killed. I wanted him tied to railings in Ballymurphy with a placard around his neck saying he was a rapist.”

    She then had many heated meetings with the PIRA and with Provisional Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams. One IRA meeting at a flat in Andersonstown’s Glassmullan Gardens was attended by Padraig Wilson, the IRA’s go-between with the international decommissioning commission.[…]

    http://fiannaiochta.wordpress.com/2012/08/10/grand-niece-of-provo-legend-endured-horrific-sexual-abuse/

    The only holes I see are those which the likes of yourself have crawled out of….

  • Jag

    Is “history” a bit of an exaggeration?

    There was talk of him suing Independent Newspapers about its coverage of the Liam Adams matter

    http://www.irishtimes.com/news/politics/gerry-adams-to-take-legal-action-against-independent-newspapers-1.1797207

    Is there more?

  • chrisjones2

    Aye Michael. Disgraceful behaviour by a victim!

    BY the way is it true that you are a member of SF? I keep asking but you dont answer

  • chrisjones2

    How do you know that?

  • Ulick

    And as if more proof was required in jumps Slugger’s resident thought police to curtail any deviation from the agenda. Poor old Dixie…

  • bellefast

    In what way was it in the middle of a war given that it was post-ceasefire? Please watch it if you get a chance. She didn’t ask them to “investigate” it. She confided what had happened to some women in the party, then she was summoned to a meeting and told the IRA would have to investigate what she was saying because “he has rights”.

  • bellefast

    Also I’m not sure you understand what “headline” means. It was in the middle of the programme and hasn’t been used in any pull quotes, trailers or articles. What you’re perhaps saying is that, if true, it’s so heinous and shocking it should be headline news? I wholeheartedly agree.

  • Thomas Girvan

    I think Dixie has you bang to rights, Michael.

    I looked up the link
    http://thepensivequill.am/2014/01/is-michael-henry-sf-councillor-michael.html
    The evidence is convincing. You may be a councillor, but you would certainly not be suitable as a counsellor.

  • hugh mccloy

    he did and they know he did, he might be getting a farewell present and to rule it out its not a pint off the social fund in the Belfast House. Dont even bother arguing with him we know he will blindly go where he is told and is using this as a we step up to try and look good again

  • Dixie Elliott

    Notice you failed to answer anything Ulick.

    I see Adams ballsed up tonight again by claiming Mairia had self harmed in 2000 when it was actually 2006.

  • $33309652

    oh dear.
    lectures from Fianna Failure.
    That’ll be the day.

  • West_Brit

    He pulled the same stunt with the Evening Herald over an article about he murder of Jean McConville.
    The Herald refusing to be intimidated by Sinn Feins “bully boy tactics” and responded to his solicitors letter by referring him to Pressdram vs Arkell

  • Jag

    And I suppose there was GA’s threat to RTE after an interview with Miriam O’Callaghan

    “The most recent was thanks to Sinn Fein’s threat last week to take legal action against the station. The Shinners are asking their lawyers to review the interview as they feel it was negotiated in bad faith.”

    http://www.independent.ie/opinion/analysis/willie-odea-jerry-mccabe-killing-still-haunts-sinn-fein-29260029.html

  • dodrade99

    I guess that rules Roger Casement out then.