Mairia Cahill: I felt I’d been kicked when singer joined Sinn Fein

Singer Sinead O'Connor has joined Sinn Fein
Singer Sinead O'Connor has joined Sinn Fein

Mairia Cahill has said she “felt like I’d been kicked when Sinead (O’Connor) joined Sinn Fein”.

The Belfast woman who made explosive allegations on BBC that she had been raped by an alleged IRA figure in 1997 when she was 16, and in 1999 was forced into a face-to-face meeting with him, wrote in the Sunday Independent that she had spoken to the singer on Saturday about her decision to join the party.

“I had thought before this phone call that maybe my experiences at the hands of the IRA and SF had escaped her,” she wrote.

“I know now after speaking to her that she was not fully aware of this issue. I welcomed the opportunity to explain it to her, and also listen to her views.”

Writing in the same paper, Sinead O’Connor, in an open letter to Mairia Cahill, explained that she “can understand why you would find it upsetting that someone like myself would join Sinn Fein”.

“I can assure that I have not changed my personality overnight and as someone who has put their career on the line for 30 years as an advocate for child protection, the very first thing I did when I applied to join the party was state publicly that the elders of the party whose faces are associated with frightening things and who are associated with either the carrying out or the covering up of sexual crimes or other crimes should stand down – so that Sinn Fein can get back to being what it was intended to be after 1916.”

She said that 15 years since her ordination as a priest she continues to challenge the Catholic church on “matters of abuse”.

On Saturday the singer was welcomed into Sinn Fein by leader Gerry Adams – as long as she passes the “probationary period”.

The singer had formally applied to join the party last week.

She has also sought a meeting with Mr Adams to “discuss the creation of a new country”.

In relation to the singer, Ms Cahill also hit out at social media attacks on the singer, including her own, after O’Connor posted on Facebook ‘For anyone who is confused Sinn Fein is no longer associated with the use of violence’.

Ms Cahill said: “I don’t accept her belief in Sinn Fein, but then I’m entitled to my opinion too. It’s based on my own experience.”

Ms Cahill admitted “it has been a tough few months” since she made her abuse claims public.

She said she now knows after talking to the singer that she hopes to stand up for victims of abuse.

She further queried how O’Connor, who is “not known for keeping her mouth shut”, will deal with Sinn Fein who she said “are not known for their advocacy of free thinking”.

“It’s bound to end in tears,” wrote Ms Cahill. “I hope she doesn’t get hurt along the way.”

Mairia Cahill’s claims of abuse emerged into the public light in a BBC documentary.

The man she accused of rape had been 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.