Sinn Féin have denied that an invitation from its leader, Gerry Adams, to Taoiseach Enda Kenny to meet with senior republicans included those alleged by rape victim Maíria Cahill to have taken part in a ‘kangaroo court’.
An extraordinary series of Dáil exchanges saw a tense atmosphere hang over the chamber as Leaders Questions gave way to questions on what Mr Adams knew about claims by rape victim Ms Cahill that she was subjected to an “investigation” by IRA figures during which she was forced to confront her attacker.
The Taoiseach and Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin rounded on Mr Adams as he insisted Sinn Féin had not been involved in attempts to cover-up sex abuse in the North.
Describing Ms Cahill as a “courageous force to be reckoned with” whose allegations would have “serious consequences” Mr Kenny said Sinn Féin had been involved in moving sex abusers across the border to the South.
The Taoiseach insisted Ms Cahill had been put through an unacceptable ordeal after being made to take part in an IRA “investigation” into her rape.
Mr Adams told TDs that the claims were false and the people named as being involved in the alleged incident were “decent people”.
“These are not nameless, anonymous people. These are decent people. Will the Taoiseach meet them and listen to their version of the story, and then make a judgment on these matters?” Mr Adams said.
Taking this reference to include Ms Cahill’s attacker, Mr Kenny said: “I find it absolutely unbelievable that Deputy Adams would come into this House of Parliament and say a man who raped and sexually abused a woman is a decent person.”
Mr Adams protested strenuously that his comments did not include the rapist, and Mr Kenny knew that. Mr Adams said that the IRA intervened in “policing” republican areas in the North “when there was no democratic civic policing service”.
“I am acutely conscious that there may be victims who were let down or failed by the IRA’s inability to resolve these cases. As uachtarán Sinn Féin, I want to apologise to those victims,” Mr Adams said as he accused the party’s “political enemies” like the Taoiseach of using the claims of Ms Cahill for their own ends.
Mr Kenny hit back, saying: “Let us not forget that the central issue here is that a young woman was raped, sexually abused and required to go before her abuser and three other men from the IRA.”
Mr Adams called on the Taoiseach to meet the people Ms Cahill alleges subjected her to an IRA investigation. Mr Kenny replied: “I will meet the four people to whom the deputy refers, who are named. I will do so but I will not stand in judgment over them. I will ask them the question that the deputy will not answer.”
Mr Kenny asked Mr Adams to reveal if sex abusers moved across the border were still living in the South.
Micheál Martin said what he called Sinn Féin-IRA had moved abusers “from parish to parish” in a comparison with the Catholic church.
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