herald

Thursday 13 December 2018

Two women tell of abuse horror by Mairia rapist

Mairia Cahill on arrival for her meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny ,TD at Government Buildings yesterday
Mairia Cahill on arrival for her meeting with Taoiseach Enda Kenny ,TD at Government Buildings yesterday

Two women who say they were sexually abused by an alleged IRA member said they withdrew their statements because of how authorities in Northern Ireland dealt with the case.

The Belfast women alleged they were abused over a three-year period in the late 1990s, when they were just teenagers.

They claim the case was delayed because prosecutors gave precedence to a separate court case, involving allegations made by Mairia Cahill.

But their abuse allegations are also believed to be have been investigated by the IRA.

Abused

Sinn Fein vice-president Mary Lou McDonald has acknowledged Ms Cahill's alleged rapist also abused other victims.

"I have from the very, very beginning accepted Mairia Cahill's story and testimony about the awful trauma of her sexual abuse.

"I know that in the case of the person she alleges carried out this abuse, that there were other victims," she said.

"I also know that these matters were investigated, they came to court," she added.

The two women in Belfast say they had been "utterly let down by the criminal justice system".

The women, who have retained their right to anonymity, released a statement through their solicitor, outlining the background to their case and the delays they faced in bringing the matter to court.

The two women said they first reported the alleged abuse to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) in January 2010.

But they said their case was "constantly adjourned" and then postponed two days before the trial was due to begin.

The women's lawyers made complaints in November 2012 about the handling of the prosecution case to the Public Prosecution Service, the Office of the Attorney General and the Department of Justice, all in Northern Ireland.

A meeting with police and prosecutors took place in December 2012, during which there was a "frank exchange of views".

Shortly afterwards, the two women "reluctantly withdrew their statements".

The statement issued on behalf of two women said: "They had lost all faith and trust in the criminal justice system and believed they were being exploited, merely for political point scoring."

The solicitor's statement also made reference to appointment an independent review of three prosecution cases linked to Ms Cahill's allegations.

Clarification

The women questioned the independence of the review and called for clarification on its powers and terms of reference.

Five people accused in connection with the cases linked to Ms Cahill's allegations were all acquitted in court.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny says sex abusers moved by the IRA have not gone before courts and are not on the sex offenders register.

He again challenged Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams to come forward with information on the whereabouts of sex abusers.

He said Mr Adams, given his knowledge of the Republican movement, should be the first to approach the authorities and tell them where the IRA moved sex abusers.

Ms McDonald denied Sinn Fein was involved in a cover up of sex abuse.

"That is not true," she said.

ANDREW LYNCH: P14

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