By Rebecca Black, David Young and Michael McHugh
A woman who was allegedly subjected to sexual abuse by a republican has slammed an apology from Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald as “woeful”.
Máiría Cahill had demanded the apology from Ms McDonald in the wake of a damning police watchdog probe into how her case was handled.
Ms Cahill has claimed Sinn Féin covered up her allegations against one of its members. Ms McDonald unreservedly apologised to Ms Cahill, but Ms Cahill said the Sinn Féin leader’s statement she did not go far enough.
“I think Mary Lou’s statement was cowardly and woeful, and that is me being kind to Mary-Lou,” said Ms Cahill.
“She has failed to admit that Martin Morris was a party member and that Sinn Féin suspended him three years after the first senior Sinn Féin people became aware that I was being abused, and that’s what she needs to do.”
On Friday, police ombudsman Michael Maguire delivered a scathing critique into police failings, and also noted Sinn Féin did not act when Ms Cahill originally made her allegations to senior party figures in 1997, instead waiting for three years to suspend her alleged attacker.
Ms Cahill claimed she was sexually abused as a 16-year-old by alleged IRA member Martin Morris.
Mr Morris, who denied all wrongdoing, was later acquitted of rape when the case against him collapsed.
Ms Cahill had alleged the republican movement’s response to her claims was to subject her to an IRA interrogation. In response, Ms McDonald said Sinn Féin now had “robust procedures in place” for mandatory reporting of abuse allegations.
The attempted prosecutions of Mr Morris for alleged abuse and IRA membership — and four others accused of IRA membership linked to Ms Cahill’s claims of a republican internal inquiry — never got to trial.
As well as Ms Cahill, there were two other alleged victims in the case. The prosecutions collapsed in 2014 when the women withdrew their evidence.