The north’s Director of Public Prosecutions has apologised to three women who accused an alleged IRA member of abusing them as children, after a damning report criticised how his prosecution was handled.
The independent review by Sir Keir Starmer was also critical of how prosecutors dealt with additional accusations made by one of the women — Mairia Cahill —that she was subject to interrogation by the IRA in the wake of the alleged abuse.
The attempted prosecutions of Martin Morris for alleged sex abuse and IRA membership — and four others accused of IRA membership linked to the alleged republican cover-up — never got to trial as the women withdrew their evidence.
Not guilty verdicts were returned for all five defendants — Morris, Padraic Wilson, Seamus Finucane, Briege Wright and Agnes McCrory — all of whom strongly denied wrongdoing.
DPP Barra McGrory QC apologised after Mr Starmer found the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) and prosecuting counsel had let the women down.
Mr Starmer said the errors made it “almost inevitable” that the women would pull out of the process.
Mr McGrory said: “I want to take this opportunity to express as Director of Public Prosecutions a sincere apology to the three victims in these cases. It is clear that our service to them fell far short of the standard that they — and indeed the PPS — would expect.”
The alleged abuse happened between 1997 and 2000 when all the women were children. They made statements to police in 2010. After the three connected trials effectively collapsed last year, Mr Starmer was asked by Mr McGrory to examine how the PPS handled the cases.
Ms Cahill, 33, a grand-niece of prominent republican Joe Cahill, said as a teenager, in 1997, she was raped by an IRA member.
She claimed republican paramilitaries conducted their own inquiry and subjected her to interrogation before forcing her to confront her alleged attacker.
Responding to the report’s finding, Ms Cahill said she felt “vindicated”: “The apology is welcome but it’s pretty upsetting you end up in this situation... I think what would be more meaningful is that the recommendations are quickly taken on board and implemented. I met with Barra before I came here and I accept he is genuine in his apology.”
Ms Cahill said she cried when she met Mr Starmer and Mr McGrory yesterday to discuss the findings.
She said for the last seven months, her credibility had been called into question but the report “completely vindicates my position”.
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