Sinn Féin's leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill is facing fresh calls to confirm she believes Mairia Cahill was the victim of sexual abuse after a leading party TD said he has no doubt this was the case.
Housing spokesperson Eoin O'Broin inadvertently placed more pressure on Ms O'Neill to u-turn on her previous comments at the launch of the party's alternative budget housing plans on Friday morning.
Speaking to reporters at Leinster House after revealing Sinn Féin wants to give a month's rent back to all renters through tax refunds and to open a redress scheme for people who bought sub-standard Celtic Tiger homes, Mr O'Broin was asked about the ongoing stand-off between the party and Ms Cahill.
While Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald has apologised to Ms Cahill and accepted she was abused, the party's leader in Northern Ireland Michelle O'Neill failed to say she believes Ms Cahill was abused in a BBC interview this week.
Mr O'Broin said "I absolutely do believe Mairia Cahill was a victim of abuse" and claimed while Ms O'Neill did not say this "I don't think there's a huge difference between Michelle and Mary Lou".
However, asked why if this is the case Ms O'Neill has publicly failed to confirm she believes Ms Cahill was abused, Mr O'Broin said "some people in the media are making more of the views than is actually in them".
Mr O'Broin made the comments as he launched Sinn Féin's alternative housing budget plans.
The party's housing spokesperson said a key element of the plan is to effectively give all renters a month's rent back "into their pocket" at the end of every year as part of a €260m-priced 8.3% tax refund.
The initiative, he said, is to tackle runaway rent levels and to ensure renters are not spending more than a third of their net disposable income on their home. The Sinn Féin alternative housing budget also includes plans to set up a redress scheme for people who bought sub-standard Celtic Tiger homes during the boom era.