#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…

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty