Cahill condmens meeting with Sinn Féin leader over abuse claims

Cahill condmens meeting with Sinn Féin leader over abuse claims

Update7pm: Mairia Cahill has said her meeting with Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald about her treatment by the party in recent years was “potentially a waste of time” for both women.

Ms Cahill, a great-niece of prominent Belfast republican Joe Cahill, says she was sexually abused as a 16-year-old by alleged IRA member Martin Morris.

Mr Morris, who denied all wrongdoing, was acquitted of rape when the case against him collapsed.

Ms Cahill alleges that the republican movement’s response to her claims was to subject her to an IRA interrogation.

She also accused Sinn Féin of engaging in a ­cover-up and waging a campaign to question her integrity since she waived her right to ­anonymity.

An Ombudsman report revealed the PSNI’s view of the investigation – including that it did not expect cooperation from Sinn Féin members during the police interviews, something the party always denied.

Speaking after the meeting with Ms McDonald at Leinster House, Ms Cahill said she had even lower expectations for the party than ever; “if that’s humanly possible”.

“I don’t feel like I have been treated with the respect I should have been afforded as a sexual abuse victim,” she said.

Mairia Cahill outside Buswells Hotel in Dublin after her meeting with Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald (Liam McBurney/PA)
Mairia Cahill outside Buswells Hotel in Dublin after her meeting with Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald (Liam McBurney/PA)

“She [Ms McDonald] has asserted that she can’t admit there was an IRA investigation, so she said that she believed I was abused based on the strength of that there were three alleged victims that came forward.

“I asserted that if she believed that I was abused on the basis of other victims, she should also believe their was an IRA investigation as I was not the only person who said there was, but she didn’t have an answer for that.

“I feel I have been treated despicably by the Sinn Féin party, people who are now in prominent positions in Sinn Féin.

“Mary Lou McDonald says she hasn’t spoken to them about this which I find incredible, she didn’t seem to be across my case – and for someone in a leadership position that’s flabbergasting.

“I don’t want to be unkind to her, she retracted a statement where she said I had slurred the party.

“She said she felt sad that this happened, but sad is an understatement for me, I live with this every day, and I never thought this meeting would compensate me for what happened to me.

“At the very least she could have said that she believed me about what happened to me and she didn’t have the decency to do that.”

A statement from Ms McDonald said the conversation was candid and lengthy.

“I reiterated my unreserved apology and deep regret that procedures for the mandatory reporting of abuse allegations were not in place at the time of Mairia’s disclosure,” she said.

“I acknowledged the hurt and pain that Mairia has been through and I stressed to her that robust procedures for the handling of abuse allegations are now in place.”

Ms Cahill added she is still in contact with her solicitor and exploring other avenues regarding her case.

- Press Association

Earlier: Mairia Cahill doesn't have 'any expectations' ahead of meeting with McDonald

By Vivienne Clarke

Former Senator Mairia Cahill is not holding out any hopes of an admission from Sinn Féin that she was treated badly when she meets with party leader Mary Lou McDonald this afternoon.

“I don't think I've been treated very well to say the least, by the Sinn Féin party, I would expect an admittance of that, but I’m not quite sure that's going to be forthcoming,” she told RTE’s News at One.

Mairia Cahill
Mairia Cahill

“All along what I've said I wanted was an admission of what happened to me, it hasn't been forthcoming to date, they've accepted that I was abused, they haven't accepted there was an IRA investigation into that abuse or that I was brought into a room to face my abuser.

"So, I suppose the best outcome from a meeting for me today would be that that would be the case, again, I said I wouldn't have any expectations going in, because if you have expectations then you have the chance you will be let down, at the need of that.

I'm not prepared to psyche myself up for a meeting to be let down at the end of it.

Ms Cahill said that the only good thing that has come out of her case was that measures had subsequently been put in place to help other abuse victims.

“Unfortunately I'm never going to get justice against the man who abused me and the other two victims, that is very hard to take. But one of the things I wanted to make sure was that no one else would be treated in the manner that I was, that included how I was treated by the criminal justice system.

“I have really worked to the bone in terms of trying to get agencies in the north to change their approach to sexual abuse victims. As a result of my case collapsing the public protection branch within the police in the north was set up in order to streamline the criminal justice system in relation to rape cases.”

Ms Cahill welcomed Sir John Gillen’s report and had met with him during his review of the system.

“I felt it was really important to meet with Sir John Gillen. I would encourage people to fully engage with the public consultation process, that's how we're able to change the system to make sure that no sexual abuse victim is failed again.”

She said that her health and family relationships had been impacted by her decision to go public on her case and as a result she had been subjected to public shaming and graffiti on walls in Belfast.

“I would like to think that someone in Sinn Féin would have a modicum of decency about them to finally admit that.”

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