Gerry Adams is drawn into IRA ‘sex abuse’ row in BBC Spotlight probe

Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams
Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams

A BBC documentary will tonight reveal what happened when a woman who says she was raped by a suspected IRA member met Gerry Adams about the allegations.

Spotlight tonight investigates the republican movement’s handling of sexual abuse allegations against a suspected IRA member.

Mairia Cahill, whose great uncle was a founding member of the PIRA, says the republican movement investigated her claims, buried them and then imposed a code of silence to protect the movement.

Ms Cahill is from one of the republican movement’s most famous families.

Her great uncle was Joe Cahill, one of the founders of the Provisional IRA and a long-time ally of Gerry Adams.

“You would have seen him in and about the house, there was a family connection with Gerry for years,” Mairia said.

In 1997, she says that she underwent a 12 month cycle of sexual abuse, including rape, by a suspected member of the IRA.

She was 16 years old.

Her alleged abuser denied the abuse and was later acquitted of the charges in court.

But after the alleged abuse ended, Mairia Cahill was summoned to a meeting, she says, with the IRA.

“That was the start of, the only word I have for it is interrogation because that’s exactly how it felt,” she told Spotlight.

Mairia Cahill says the IRA questioned her repeatedly, often several nights a week, for months about the abuse allegations.

After more than six months of questioning Mairia Cahill says that in early 2000, she was brought face-to-face with her alleged abuser in a kangaroo court session that was supposed to determine the truth.

“They told me that they were going to read my body language to see who was telling the truth and that they were going to bring him into a room.”

The programme will examine what the IRA did following the forced confrontation.

Mairia Cahill also tells Spotlight about a meeting she had, only months later, with the Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams about her abuse allegations.

The programme will also look at what happened when Mairia Cahill eventually told her story to police and named the IRA’s investigators.

In a statement, Gerry Adams told Spotlight that he co-operated with the PSNI in the course of their investigation.

See BBC Spotlight, Tuesday October 14, BBC One Northern Ireland, 10.35pm.