Gerry Adams accused of deflecting abuse cover-up claims

Mairia Cahill  claims she was raped by a suspected IRA member, then interrogated  by the paramilitary group
Mairia Cahill claims she was raped by a suspected IRA member, then interrogated by the paramilitary group

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams still has questions to answer as to how his party and the IRA dealt with allegations of sex abuse within their own ranks, Fianna Fáil Leader Micheál Martin TD has said.

Referring to a speech Mr Adams made on Saturday in which he delivered a response to criticism levelled against him and the republican movement over the handling of sex abuse, Mr Martin said the Sinn Fein leader “opted to use his speech this morning to attack his political opponents for continuing to pursue the truth”.

Mr Martin added: “This vain attempt to deflect attention from the cover-ups within those organisations [the IRA and Sinn Féin], which are now emerging, is sickening.”

Mr Adams, on Saturday, responding directly to a claim made by Taoiseach Enda Kenny in the Dail last week, said Sinn Fein’s approach to sex abuse allegations had been in “stark contrast” to that of the Irish state and the Catholic hierarchy.

Last Wednesday, Mr Kenny told the Irish Parliament that IRA men had been exiled south of the border after being accused of serious sex crimes, and drew parallels between the actions of the church and Sinn Fein representatives.

“A cursory examination of the facts gives the lie to that ridiculous assertion,” Mr Adams said.

“The Church hierarchy and the State presided over institutional abuse for decades. It was a systemic and deliberate practice. In stark contrast, Sinn Féin has encouraged victims to speak out.”

Mr Adams has strongly denied being part of any “cover-up” over Mairia Cahill’s claims and has offered to meet her face-to-face.

Ms Cahill claims she was raped as a teenager by a suspected IRA member and said she was later interrogated by the IRA who covered up what happened.

The man she accused of rape was later acquitted of criminal charges in court after Ms Cahill withdrew her evidence.

Charges were dropped against those allegedly involved in the IRA’s internal inquiry.

On Saturday Mr Adams said: “Nobody doubts that Mairia has been through great distress. I have never doubted that she suffered abuse. And like every citizen she is fully entitled to truth and justice.

“Over the course of the past week Mairia Cahill has made serious allegations against myself and named Sinn Féin members. While I am very mindful of the trauma she has suffered I and the others she has named reject those allegations.

“The allegations made by Mairia Cahill have been seized upon in the most cynical, calculated and opportunistic way by our political opponents.

“Their aim has little to do with helping victims of abuse, but everything to do with furthering their own narrow political agendas.”

Mr Adams added: “I am very conscious that a young woman is at the centre of this controversy.

“So, let me be very, very clear.

“Abuse is wrong. It cannot and must not be tolerated.

“Let me be equally clear. Sinn Féin has not engaged in any cover-up of abuse at any level of this party.”