Maíria Cahill: “Issue transcends petty politics to put the safety of children first”

Maíria Cahill

Maíria Cahill

Maíria Cahill who claims she was raped as a teenager by a man believed to be a member of the IRA and later “interrogated” by the IRA about the incident, appeared on RTE Six One News last night to further clarify allegations of a cover up by Sinn Féin and suggested sexual abuse was more widespread than she originally feared.

She claimed her situation is not an isolated case and appealed on the show for members of Sinn Féin who have information on any alleged abuse cases to come forward.

 

Late last night we spoke with Maíria:

On RTE Six One News you mentioned that instances of child abuse may be widespread. How many cases are you personally aware of and what is your message to the victims?
I am aware of other cases of child abuse perpetrated by republicans, and I have described it as a hugely significant number.  Journalists have contacted me with knowledge of cases, as have former members of the movement – and more importantly I’ve spoken with victims. It is shameful that Sinn Féin are still denying this issue – and also stupid for them to do so when so much information is already in the public domain.
So far since Spotlight aired you have focused your campaign in the South. What are your plans for highlighting the issues raised in Northern Ireland?
I had no intentions of speaking with the media after the Spotlight Programme aired – until Sinn Féin denied the issue and I felt forced into a position of doing so in order that people heard the truth.  I haven’t viewed that as a campaign, but more of a natural response to what I have said is a reprehensible and ludicrous approach from Sinn Féin.  I initially gave interviews in the North, and I then met with politicians in the South and due to denial after denial  – and attacks on me, I have not refused any media request – even though it has been tiring, and busy and stressful.  But I did so, because Sinn Féin have repeatedly refused to tell the truth and I will continue to speak until they do so. Sinn Féin, nor the IRA cannot silence me any longer.
There have been accusations that you are being used by certain politicians to score points against Sinn Féin. What would you say about those claims and what steps are you taking to ensure that the issue is not used as a political football?
I think its an attempt to deflect away from the issue.  I am happy that the politicians across the political spectrum – from every party on this island have united on this issue in a very sensitive way,  and all have been keen to stress that this is not a political issue, but an issue which transcends petty politics to put the safety of children first.  The only party which cannot grasp this fact is Sinn Féin.  If this were any other leader of a political party in Ireland, they would have been shamed into a position of resigning.  I think it defies belief that once again, Sinn Féin have damaged themselves in closing rank to blindly defend a leader who clearly has trouble with some aspects of his memory.
Earlier Ms. Cahill appeared on RTE Radio to confirm that Sinn Féin has not contacted her since news of the latest scandal surrounding the party broke on Tuesday.  Maíria Cahill stated that she is “completely appalled” at statements issued by Gerry Adams in which he claimed the two had not discussed the rape allegations “in any detail.”


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  • Jag

    After a week of this, and a score of threads, I’m still in the dark as to precisely what Ms Cahill is now seeking. From the above, it seems she’s seeking

    (1) The resignation of GA – not going to happen, at least not for this because it seems to boil down to He said/she said.
    (2) An inquiry into what she claims is a “significant number” of abuse cases in the Republican movement which were never investigated or which never resulted in criminal proceedings – not going to happen, because if you have an inquiry for covered-up abuse, why not an inquiry for the handful of covered-up killings in the 2000s in particular, and more generally covered-up killings and maimings of non-combatants in the previous 30 years. That’s a can of worms opening that SF can’t allow outside a formal Truth and Reconciliation process, we all know that, even if some would wish otherwise.
    (3) What else? A catharsis for her experience? Maybe the attention given to her by the media and political leaders might boost her sense of worth, but at the end of the day, she claims to have had some deeply traumatic experiences and neither the BBC nor the president of the United States will heal that hurt.She’ll need professional help that has her best interests at heart and which will focus in detail on her experiences in a way a 15-minute circus with Peter Robinson never could.

    After a week of this and hearing stories of self-harm (I really think GA was bang out of order on that), personal issues and what GA refers to as “diffs” (that was in context of conversation he had with Ms Cahill, he wasn’t being dismissive), I am also beginning to get deeply uneasy about how this is affecting Ms Cahill. And I hope the BBC, Micheal Martin and anyone else she confides in has the integrity to take steps to ensure Ms Cahill is aware of help available and to guide her in that direction. As cynical as I am, I know that individual media staff and politicians will have some concern for Ms Cahill as a person, even if that is overshadowed by her worth to them in some cases.

  • babyface finlayson

    Is there not a valid concern about abusers relocated and known to the republican movement who may still be a danger to other children?
    She seems to be asking that these people are made known to the authorities. That is different from the issue of historic killings since abusers are highly likely to reoffend and may therefore still be a real threat.

  • Dan

    Uncle Joe has a lot to answer for.

  • bellefast

    I agree. The parallel is with priests who were sent to different parishes – preferably overseas – so they were free to continue with the abuse without damage to the Church’s reputation. Meanwhile children who could have been protected were left vulnerable. I would hope that people in the South and the UK would be appalled that their kids may have been put in harm’s way simply to protect the image of the Republican movement.

  • Comrade Stalin

    I haven’t seen her ask for the resignation of GA. I think she wants to GA to admit what was done, and the effort to cover it up, and apologise for it. I think she believes that if this happens, it will be easier for other victims to come forward and possibly get justice from the courts.

    Not surprised that SF are resisting this tooth and nail as people could go to jail.

  • NMS

    Babyface, are you suggesting that much of the smuggling and criminality on both sides of the Border does not have links to former? paramilitaries?

  • babyface finlayson

    NMS
    I’m not sure what you mean. I was responding to Jag’s point about the problem for SF revealing details of alleged abusers still at large. They could surely do this in the interest of preventing further abuse without jeopardising any other enterprise they might have knowledge of.
    As bellefast points out the parallel with priests being moved around seems apposite.
    “Our revenge will be the laughter of our children” ?
    Maybe, but not the children at risk from relocated abusers.

  • NMS

    The reaction of the Irish Shinners (as opposed to the UKNI ones) has been incredible. Absolutely total silence on the issue, with the exception of GA’s deputy, who has been dragged into the story in her own right. A quick trip around the twitter accounts of the SF councillors in Dublin authorities. In particular, Blackrock College’s finest old boy John Byrne @EOBroin , the Party Commissar, is not for talking.

    Their failure to come to defence of Adams speaks loudly where opposition of course is not tolerated. Even their councillors in Ms. McDonald’s own constituency are all tongue tied in support of her or der Führer. Of course perhaps they haven’t been programmed yet to respond!

  • NMS

    Babyface, Apologies if I was not clear. In relation to your point that those involved in other incidents such as murders, robberies extortion etc., are not likely to re-offend. This is clearly not true. Look at GA’s best friend Slab Murphy. Many of the Dublin criminal gangs also have/had links with This is not an issue specific to one side or the other. I am sure there are serious links on the loyalist side also. Sinn Féin moved Daithí Doolan from Ringsend to Ballyfermot afer he lost his seat as a consequence of the murder of Joseph Rafferty.

    Quoting 1981’s best known suicide victim reminds me that we are still talking about the man who sent him to his death.

  • Comrade Stalin

    The parallels are very strong. The church did what it did because it thought that it would be bad for society and the world at large if it was seen to be harbouring sex offenders. That consequence was judged to be worse than the consequences of allowing them to continue what they were doing.

  • babyface finlayson

    NMS
    I take that point. But from a republican point of view those may still be useful activities and therefore worth denying.
    I can see no justification for them to continue to protect abusers and put children at risk.

  • NMS

    Babyface, Yes, the nickname of their Dublin councillors is “nailbomb”. There are still useful activities worth denying!

    The problem is the depth of the cover up. For example, Danny Morrison is not responding to tweets from Ms Cahill and others. She is suggesting he knows a lot. They clearly want to defend Adams. Are other leaders involved. Who knows we will have to await for further developments.

  • Jag

    @Comrade, if “admit what was done” is a reference to the IRA investigation, I don’t think that is going to happen, the rough and ready manner of it, and particularly the allegation that she was pitted face-to-face with her alleged abuser, is just too damaging for SF. And consequently any confirmation of efforts at a cover up or specific apology won’t be forthcoming. People may indeed go to jail if allegations of IRA membership are proven in court, but regardless, the details of the IRA investigation as alleged by Ms Cahill are deeply damaging to SF, and threaten to undermine their position on Church abuse, Magdalene abuse, Bethany abuse, cutbacks to rape crisis centres and more generally, any criminal justice issues. (Can you imagine the yaa-boos in the Dail the next time SF express support for the Garda whistleblowers for example?)

  • Jag

    Ms Cahill has now “named” on Twitter some 20-30 suspected abusers who she claims were moved around the country – Roman Catholic style seemingly – by the IRA. She says she has reported these to the relevant authorities.

    Having now watched the Spotlight programme, I was struck by how much interest the IRA or SF had apparently taken in her allegations of abuse. I can’t help but wonder that if it were not for the fact that she was Republic royalty, how the IRA would otherwise have dealt with the claims, in other words if she was just some Joe Public figure and she was accusing an IRA member of abuse, how much more difficult her life would have been.

  • NMS

    Jag I think I am going to break a habit of a lifetime and buy the SINDO tomorrow morning. I can only presume that Auntie Éilis has all the names and has had time to develop and check all the facts for the stories.

    The tweets appear to be a response to RTÉs “failure” to let her go one on one with Ms. McDonald. I don’t think the appropriate comparison is with the Catholic Church rather it is with the recent goings on within the Socialist Workers’ Party (SWP) http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/mar/22/swp-cover-up-rape-complaint

    Yes look at what happened to Mrs. McConville, Ms Cahill would probably be still missing without the connections. Eoin ÓBroin is still silent on the issue, tweeting like a demented fool from Parnell Park. Any issue rather than Ms Cahill. It is all quite surreal.

  • Comrade Stalin

    if “admit what was done” is a reference to the IRA investigation, I don’t think that is going to happen,

    Maybe, maybe not. But that isn’t a reason to back off. And republicans know that too well – they’ve been campaigning for over 20 years, for example, for an independent international inquiry into the murder of Pat Finucane even though the chances of them actually getting one are close to zero.

    he details of the IRA investigation as alleged by Ms Cahill are deeply damaging to SF, and threaten to undermine their position on Church abuse, Magdalene abuse, Bethany abuse, cutbacks to rape crisis centres and more generally, any criminal justice issues.

    They certainly do, which is why SF’s attempts to deflect from this matter might actually be doing them more harm than coming clean now.

  • NMS

    Bronze, perhaps it is time for a new name. We have had Sinn Féin, the Workers’ Party, SFWP on the road from “Official” Sinn Féin to the Workers’ Party.

    My suggestion is that the Provos could initially call themselves, Sinn Fein, the Rapists’ Party SFRP. They could then move quickly to RiP.

  • Jag

    Buy the Sindo, NMS? Don’t be rash, it’s available free online (sometimes I think they should pay us for reading it, it’s so poor, in my opinion, contrast it with the Sunday Times especially today)

    There is wall-to-wall coverage of SF today, possibly triggered by a little dig the INM group received from the Press Ombudsman for claiming a letter from GA was tantamount to an attempt to “gag”. Allegations of bias on INM’s part were either not upheld, or held to be outside the remit of the Ombudsman. A small victory for GA. The anti-SF coverage encompasses everything from SF stance on fuel stretching to RTE coverage of the Cahill affair to Eilis’s recollections of history, with which we’re all familiar at this stage. It fills their pages though.

    There’s nothing new in the Sindo coverage as far as I can see, if you follow Ms Cahill on Twitter and watched Spotlight and the RTE Radio One interview yesterday, you’d already know 99% of what is reported today.