Rape victim Mairia Cahill has urged Sinn Féin to clarify whether four people linked to the party were prepared to defend her attacker if the charges went to trial, after the issue was flagged in an independent review of the case.
The Belfast woman put the question to the party last night despite officials claiming the revelation is “not an issue for Sinn Féin”, and amid attempts to distance the party from what its president, Gerry Adams, has argued is a family matter.
Last Friday, Northern Ireland’s director of public prosecutions published the long-awaited Keir Starmer report into how its judicial system handled accusations by Ms Cahill and two others against Martin Morris, who was identified in the report and previously named in the Dáil as a senior provisional IRA member. The report said the victims were let down by the system after complaints they made in 2010 failed to result in any trials by 2014, leading to all three withdrawing their evidence.
However, while it focused on the failure of the system to bring the cases to trial, it also referenced a previously unknown issue.
On page 31 of the document, the authors of the independent report state that “the defendant [Mr Morris] hoped to rely in the sexual abuse case on the evidence of the four [kangaroo court] ‘investigators’” but that before this happened separate provisional IRA membership charges had to be heard as otherwise “their evidence may incriminate them”.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner last night, Ms Cahill said the statement showed her alleged attacker was seeking evidence to support his defence from people involved in the kangaroo court “investigation”. She said Sinn Féin must clarify why Mr Morris believed he could rely on this support if the party is unconnected to what happened.
She asked how Mr Adams can describe these individuals as “decent people” — a comment he made in the Dáil — if they were willing to defend someone facing year-long rape allegations by someone who was 16 when the abuse took place.
However, a Sinn Féin spokesperson said the “questions raised could only be answered by the legal representatives involved and is not an issue for Sinn Féin”.
The latest revelation in the abuse case comes as Adams is facing potential legal action from at least one of the Belfast woman’s uncles over his remarks at the weekend.
In comments made to media at the Carlow-Kilkenny byelection count centre, which were repeated on RTÉ radio, Mr Adams said Ms Cahill was abused by her “uncle” and that “it is a fact most abuse happens in families”, stressing his view Sinn Féin did not “cover up” the case as it happened outside the organisation.
Mr Adams has since faced criticism from Ms Cahill for what she said is an attempt to distance the party from the case, with at least one of her 12 uncles considering legal action as Mr Morris is an uncle through marriage.
Speaking via a spokesperson, Mr Adams repeated her “named alleged abuser was her uncle and regrettably... instances of abuse occur within families”.
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