At one point in The View last night, SF’s Phillip McGuigan said yesterday “was a bad day for political accountability”. He was, of course, referring to the failure a recall motion to force Ian Paisley to fight a by-election to retain his seat.
It came as his own party leader got caught up in the outflow of the Police Ombudsman report, when she claimed, rather implausibly, that her party had no records of Mairia Cahill’s alleged rapist being a member of her party.
This despite the fact the party organ An Phoblacht published a profile outlining Morris’s role in CRJ and encouraging people to go his office in cases of assaults and domestic violence just before Police reports say he was expelled after further allegations arose.
Yesterday, Ms Cahill released yet another telling detail of the Ombudsman’s report, in which a chief inspector gave evidence that in his view…
…if the RUC’s special branch or crime investigation division (CID) investigated a case like Ms Cahill’s, the focus would be on gleaning information on the IRA rather than prosecuting a child abuser.
The chief inspector said if the RUC’s CARE unit, which investigates child sex abuse, handled the case it would focus on “child welfare”.
But if the special branch or CID oversaw the case, they would use the information to “secure co-operation in other matters and disregard or minimise the child protection aspect”.
The retired senior officer’s comments suggest Ms Cahill would have been unlikely to have received justice should she have gone to the RUC as the police force would have been more interested in getting information on those behind the IRA investigation into her claims.
Cahill commented that “the decision by the IRA to involve themselves in a sex abuse investigation meant they robbed the victims of any hope of justice through the proper criminal justice channels.” Well, quite. Though it doesn’t explain the odd decision to split her case in two and thereby undermine her chances of justice.
The question is, how many of these cases are there? And if any were to try to bring a prosecution, what chances would they have of successfully getting their cases through the courts?
And, I suppose there is always the matter of whether they would be entitled to some form of compensation, or from whom. Presumably this is another reason Ms McDonald, like the church before her, is playing it so cautiously.
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