The First Minister is to meet the woman who alleges that she was raped by an IRA man and then subjected to an IRA ‘kangaroo court’ before being failed by the PSNI and state prosecutors.
Mairia Cahill, a relative of IRA icon Joe Cahill, this week waived her right to anonymity to speak out in a BBC Spotlight programme, claimed that she endured months of sexual abuse before the start of an IRA ‘investigation’ which culminated in her being brought face to face with her alleged attacker.
The man she accused of raping her denied the allegation and the case against him was withdrawn when Ms Cahill — who says she had lost confidence in the PSNI and PPS after seemingly inexplicable mistakes — withdrew her evidence.
Mr Robinson said that he had agreed to meet Ms Cahill at Stormont on Monday.
The DUP leader said: “Maria has been incredibly courageous in waiving her right to anonymity and publicly describing her ordeal. Since making her case public, Maria has become a source of encouragement for others in similar circumstances. Whilst I could never fully imagine the trauma Maria has had to endure, I will be listening to her story, supporting her campaign for truth and justice and providing any help I can.
“Maria’s case is very similar to how some institutions sought to protect the organisation rather than give support to victims of sexual abuse.”
More than two years ago, as several individuals faced IRA membership charges arising out of the terror group’s ‘investigation’, Ms Cahill released a statement to the News Letter and other outlets expressing her extreme frustration at rare reporting restrictions which banned the media from reporting the accused.
At the time, Ms Cahill, who at that point could not be named for legal reasons, said: “I have met with extremely strong resistance from both the PPS and the PSNI with regards to lifting this reporting restriction.
“The PPS only agreed to put the application in to lift it on Thursday morning, after I expressed that, by keeping it, it is fuelling speculation within the community and potentially putting my life at risk.
“Since then, I received a phonecall from the PSNI, informing me that they would be making the application to keep the reporting restriction in at the nearest court date, against my wishes as a victim. This phonecall was extremely heated, and left me wholly stressed. It also left me in no doubt that there are certainly people being protected in this case, but it isn’t the victim’s.”
Ultimately, the PPS did agree to ask for the reporting restrictions — which were made at the request of the defence but unopposed by the PPS — to be lifted. A judge rejected that application but a further application from the BBC was successful.
The PSNI declined to comment as a complaint has been made to the Police Ombudsman.
A PPS spokesperson said the case was one of three interlinked cases “involving a number of defendants and complainants”, one of which centred on sexual abuse allegations.
She added: “In prosecuting these cases the PPS was concerned to ensure that there could be no risk of identification of complainants due to the interlinked nature of the cases. Consideration of the imposition or lifting of any such restrictions is a matter for the court.”