herald

Saturday 21 October 2017

Andrew Lynch: Sex abuse claims threaten to bury Adams for good

Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams says Israel prevented him visiting Gaza
Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams says Israel prevented him visiting Gaza

Gerry Adams is the son of a sex abuser. He is also the brother of a convicted child molester, currently serving time for the serial abuse of Gerry's niece, Aine.

So the Sinn Fein leader should be particularly sensitive to the suffering of Paudie McGahon, who has gone public about how he was raped by a senior IRA figure at the age of 17 and then subjected to a kangaroo court.

The reality is very different. Ever since Paudie told his harrowing story last Tuesday, the top priority of Gerry and his colleagues has been to cover their own backsides.

The big question now is whether or not an avalanche of other sex abuse claims will follow, burying Adams' 32-year-old leadership once and for all.

McGahon's ordeal sounds truly horrific. When the IRA identified his rapist in 2002, they offered Paudie and another victim a choice - to put a bullet in the man's head, make him available for a torture session or send him into exile. The one thing they would not do was tell the gardai - and Paudie was warned that alerting the proper authorities would result in him being found dead on a Border road.

When McGahon finally met with local Sinn Fein TD Arthur Morgan in 2009, he got precious little help either. Morgan advised the vulnerable young man to contact the gardai but made no attempt to do so himself.

He also informed Paudie that the rapist was now back in Ireland and living in a village just ten miles away.

All of this has obvious parallels with the Mairia Cahill scandal that first rocked Sinn Fein last October.

In both cases, terrified abuse victims were further traumatised by an illegal organisation presuming to act as judge, jury and executioners. In both cases, members of Sinn Fein have made crude and nasty attempts to discredit the whistleblowers - with MP Francie Molloy tweeting that Paudie's story was "another load of rubbish".

There is, however, one crucial difference. The crimes against Mairia Cahill were committed in Belfast between 1997 and 2000, when Sinn Fein could at least claim that nationalists did not trust the local police force.

Paudie McGahon's kangaroo court nightmare took place in the Republic, four years after the Good Friday Agreement - which means that this time, the Shinners do not have a leg to stand on.

What about Gerry Adams' role?

The godfather of Irish republicanism insists that he knew nothing about what had happened to Paudie McGahon until Arthur Morgan briefed him in 2009.

Even if we accept this as true, the party leader surely had a moral duty to inform the gardai himself. Instead, he left Paudie to suffer in silence for another six years.

Gerry's crocodile tears are hard to take seriously. He has fallen back on his stock formula of calling for anyone with information to step forward, but says that he is powerless to track down the culprit himself.

As Mairia Cahill pointed out yesterday, an IRA member could hardly blow their nose without Adams hearing about it - so the least he can do now is have a chat with his Provo pals about the rapist's location.

The timing for Sinn Fein could hardly be worse. Last weekend they were enjoying a successful Ard Fheis and hoping to be in power north and south for the centenary of 1916.

distraction

Now the party's thuggish past has come back to haunt them yet again - and their spectacular u-turn on welfare reform in Northern Ireland looks like a desperate attempt at distraction.

It is still too early to say whether or not this will finish off Adams for good. In the past year alone he has survived his arrest for questioning over the murder of mother-of-ten Jean McConville, claims that he did not do enough to stop his paedophile brother, and a twisted joke about holding the editor of the Irish Independent at gunpoint.

What we do know for certain is that there are dozens of other IRA sex abuse victims out there, with devastating stories to tell.

At the Fine Gael national conference last month, Health Minister Leo Varadkar described Gerry Adams as "a self-serving phoney". The Paudie McGahon revelations suggest that the Minister was being too kind.

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