If you missed it, it is well worth watching Mairia Cahill on Vincent Browne last night… It’s an extraordinarily well conducted interview by Browne who stays focused the whole way through. Ms Cahill seems to start pretty nervously which provoked a few (mercifully few) Twitter to talk about doubting her story.
Other still questioned the timing of these revelations, still measuring this all as a deliberate political attack on an emergent Sinn Fein.
On one level the answer is pretty simple. Ms Cahill first raised this issues publicly four years ago, but as Jen O’Leary highlighted in Spotlight it took the PSNI and DPP an inordinate (completely out all whack with similar cases in England) length time to assemble an ultimately too weak case for the courts.
On another, they are also dead right. This has now become a very political issue, ironically legitimised as a southern issue by Mr Adams’ 2011 leap across the border. Ms Cahill has accused Mr Adams of lying (she’s not the first), and she has clearly laid out her ‘political’ demands.
As presaged in her press conference at Leinster House yesterday, she wants full disclosure from Sinn Fein and the remanent members of the IRA, not simply of her case alone but all and any such attempts to deal with rape or sexual assault that may have been covered by them in the past.
The Irish press have been pre-occupied with the complex business of covering budget all week. But you could say the issue landed with a crash yesterday.
What Jen O’Leary’s programme achieved to was to catch Gerry Adams and his Praetorian Guard compromised in a civil as opposed to a military affair, and after not before the signing of the Good Friday or Belfast Agreement.
Ms Cahill also asserts fiercely that Ms McDonald already knew about her case at the time she gave firm denials to a national audience on Morning Ireland last year…
Rachel English: Just to be clear on this then, are you aware of any other case where a republican may have questions to answer about how they treated abuse allegations?
Mary Lou McDonald: Well, I’m not Rachel. But that is not to say that there might not be a case like that.
Rachel English: You are not aware of any other case where concerns have been raised?
Mary Lou McDonald: No. I have seen speculation in the media. I have seen other people raise these issues.
Given the huge length of time it has taken (and is still taking) to get the Catholic Church to confess to its own corporate guilt with regard to sexual abuse, nothing is certain. But this unfolding story has the potential to turn into a rather high stakes game…
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