Watch: ‘IRA man raped me, then he threatened to kill me’

Spotlight reporter, Jennifer O'Leary interviewing Paudie McGahon
Spotlight reporter, Jennifer O'Leary interviewing Paudie McGahon

A second person claiming to have been raped by a member of the IRA has gone public to accuse republicans of trying to “cover up” his allegations.

With the Mairia Cahill case still very much in the public eye, Paudie McGahon has told the BBC Spotlight programme he was attacked in his Co Louth home by an IRA man from Belfast who was later banished to England.

Mr McGahon, who was 17 at the time of the alleged attack, said senior members of the terrorist organisation held a “kangaroo court” is his house and offered to shoot the alleged rapist.

Not being able to live with a death on his conscience, Mr McGahon said he opted for the expulsion option, but remains extremely unhappy at how republicans dealt with case.

He told Tuesday night’s programme he was “outraged” when last October he heard Gerry Adams denying the IRA mistreated victims of sexual abuse, including Mairia Cahill, and decided to speak out.

Mr McGahon said he came from a strong republican stronghold and felt he could not report the rape incident to the Irish police as his attacker threatened to kill him if he told anyone.

He said he came into contact with many IRA members as his family home was used as a “safe house” by the organisation.

Following the alleged rape, his said his attacker to told him: “Listen to me, if you ever open your mouth about this to anybody you’ll be found on a border road.”

Mr McGahon added: “Many’s a person asks me ‘why didn’t you go to a doctor? Why didn’t you go to this? This isn’t stuff that you walk into a doctor and say, ‘your man raped me last night’.

“How can you report it to the guards, when you have been threatened keep your mouth shut? So I hid it all, I hid it all,”

Our day will come, and we will get justice

Paudie McGahon

Despite suffering in silence over the incident for many years, in 2002 he approached a local Sinn Fein representative for help which led to the IRA contacting him about the allegations.

During a second meeting with the same senior IRA figures - allegedly led by Padraic Wilson from Belfast - Mr McGahon was informed his attacker had admitted abusing him, and others, and was in the “custody” of republicans.

Mr McGahon said they told him: “He is in custody and he is not going anywhere until we have dealt with him.”

The case - involving potential offences of sexual assault and an attempt to pervert the course of justice - is currently being investigation by An Garda Siochana.

Last year, 33-year-old Ms Cahill claimed she was attacked as a teenager by a well-known IRA man and that paramilitaries conducted their own inquiry into her complaint, during which they subjected her to interrogation and forced her to confront her alleged attacker. The man she accused of rape was cleared in court after Ms Cahill withdrew her evidence. All charges were subsequently dropped against those allegedly involved in the IRA’s internal investigation.

Although he has since married and started a family of his own, Mr McGahon said he has been psychologically damaged by his ordeal and the way he has been treated by the republican movement.

“I had an emotional breakdown. The cover up was from top to bottom,” he said.

Mr McGahon said Mairia Cahill’s courage in speaking out, particularly in light of the barrage of criticism she has endured, had given him the “strength to stand up and be counted”.

He said his message to Sinn Fein is one they will be familiar with: “Our day will come, and we will get justice.”

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams has said Paudie McGahon “clearly feels badly let down”.

Mr Adams added: “Nothing that I may say will change this but it is a matter of deep regret to me. I hope that justice is served and support delivered to Mr McGahon.”

In a statement released ahead of the Spotlight programme, Padraic Wilson said he did not know, or had ever met Mr McGahon, and that he has “had no dealings whatsoever with the man he alleges raped him”.

Mr Wilson said: “As a victim of alleged abuse Mr McGahon has every right to have his allegations pursued through due process. But I refute entirely the allegations that he has made against me. They are completely baseless and untrue.

“I am concerned that media outlets and political leaders are repeating these allegations as fact when they are without foundation.”

He added: “I am aware that there is an ongoing Garda investigation. I have previously, through my legal representative, offered to voluntarily attend for questioning to clear up this matter. That remains my position.”

During the programme it was revealed that around 30 sexual abuse cases involving former IRA members were being investigated by gardai.

The PSNI were unable to say how many similar investigations they were carrying out north of the border.

NI21 MLA Basil McCrea has said a single inquiry should be established to look at the issue rather than a “trial by media”.

However, justice minister David Ford said such a cross-border inquiry could not be instigated while police and other agency investigations were ongoing.

Mr Ford said: “The reality is that there are a number of issues in the cases highlighted by Mairia Cahill and others which require individual agencies of the justice system in Northern Ireland and individual agencies of the justice system in the Republic to conduct their inquiries; to do their work; to carry out their investigations to see whether there are opportunities for prosecutions.

“The important thing is to allow the relevant agencies to conduct their work and then see after ensuring that there is no interference with the justice system that the appropriate way of examining matter further is then looked at. Whether that be a specific inquiry in Northern Ireland; a related inquiry cross-border or whatever. We are open to see what is appropriate at that stage.”

Meanwhile, Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin suggested Sinn Fein’s dramatic withdrawal of support for welfare reform could be seen as an attempt to distract attention from the latest allegations.

“There is a tendency of Sinn Fein, when negative material comes their way, they have a habit of fairly spectacular distractions,” Mr Martin said.