AN IRA figure alleged to have raped Mairia Cahill before confronting her in a kangaroo court has "disappeared into the smoke", according to Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness.
The North's Deputy First Minister, who is a former IRA commander, said he could not say sorry on behalf of an organisation he claims no longer exists.
The Mairia Cahill affair took a new twist yesterday after Taoiseach Enda Kenny revealed that witnesses could be compelled to appear in front of a cross-border inquiry.
Both Mr Kenny and Mr McGuinness spoke out about the IRA abuse scandal following a meeting of the British-Irish Council in the Isle of Man.
In response to queries from the Herald, Mr McGuinness claimed that the man alleged to have raped Ms Cahill when she was aged just 16 appears to have vanished.
"I suppose the sad thing about the Mairia Cahill case is the alleged abuser has disappeared into smoke and people are focusing their concentration on people who were not involved in sexual abuse of Mairia Cahill and I think that's a mistake," he said.
But asked if he would apologise on behalf of the organisation, Mr McGuinness said:
"The IRA is gone. I can't speak on behalf of an organisation that doesn't exist anymore." Mr McGuinness said he has "no knowledge whatsoever" about abusers being moved South.
Meanwhile, the Taoiseach confirmed yesterday that the establishment of a cross-border inquiry into IRA sexual abuse and the alleged movement of abusers to the Republic is being considered. He said a Dail debate held two weeks ago stemmed from Ms Cahill's "courage and conviction".
Mr Kenny proposed a "dual system" with powers to compel witnesses. He said he intends to hold "frank" talks with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams on the IRA abuse scandal.