Sinn Féin’s child protection officer has claimed a backbench Government TD is only raising concerns over the alleged cover-up of rapes by the Provisional IRA to improve her chances in the next general election.
Meath-based councillor Joe Reilly made the remarks on Twitter a week after party colleague Francie Molloy MP was forced to apologise for describing alleged victim Paudie McGahon’s claims as “rubbish” on the same social media site.
Responding to allegations by Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty that Sinn Féin had held a secret investigation into the scandal in 2006, Mr Reilly said the remarks were only made because her seat was under threat.
On Sunday, Mr Reilly tweeted a question: “Is Regina Doherty getting more desperate as Fine Gael internal polls show she is way behind McEntee?”
The message was a reference to Fine Gael TD Helen McEntee who shares the Meath East constituency with Ms Doherty. It is likely to be tightly contested in the next general election and may not return two seats for the main Government party.
Mr Reilly, Sinn Féin’s national officer on child protection, has retweeted in previous days a number of other messages about the abuse allegations.
They included those from other Twitter users, saying: n “Literally no one buying their shite anymore”, in reference to the Sunday Independent’s articles on the issue; n Calling TDs speaking out on the issue “hypocrites” for not raising similar concerns about a 30% cut to the Rape Crisis Centre’s budget; n Further comments asking why journalist Paul Williams or Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin didn’t “go to the gardaí himself” when they were told of the claims relating to Paudie McGahon.
The Irish Examiner made a number of phone calls to Mr Reilly seeking comment on Tuesday and yesterday without success.
After the same request was made to Sinn Féin’s press office, a spokesperson said: “Joe Reilly is a long-standing Meath county councillor. It is entirely appropriate for him to retweet issues such as this Government is cutting funding to rape crisis centres.
“Furthermore, comments made recently by Regina Doherty are currently with our legal team.”
Ms Doherty last night criticised the comments, asking if it was “genuinely the best response to say I’m only raising this because I’m behind in the polls”.
She said the opposition party needs to “start taking this seriously”.
She added: “If they think by throwing polls in my face I’ll drop this they need to snap out of it. I’d rather lose my seat.”
The online row follows a similar issue last week involving Sinn Féin MP Francie Molloy, who was forced to apologise for describing Mr McGahon’s allegations as “rubbish” on Twitter.
It also comes as Sinn Féin continues to face claims it was aware of dozens of other cases which went before ‘kangaroo courts’.
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