Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin and justice spokesperson Niall Collins urged the Government to establish the investigation yesterday, insisting it is not possible for garda or PSNI inquiries to uncover the depth of what happened by looking at isolated cases.
During a tense Dáil debate on the scandal, Mr Martin said “the only way” the issue can be fully uncovered “is through a commission of inquiry” similar to the Ferns and Cloyne clerical abuse investigations, which could find out “who was involved” in kangaroo courts and “complicit” in withholding information.
Mr Collins later said the move could “look at the totality” of the issue and would not infringe on potential criminal cases.
However, a senior Government spokesperson last night rejected the proposals as “live police investigations” are taking place either side of the border which “need to be allowed to proceed”.
The call was made as Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan told the Dáil the Coalition believes Sinn Féin is aware of “more than 100 cases” of sexual abuse perpetrated and covered up by members of the Provisional IRA, during an angry leaders’ questions stand-off with Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald.
Ms McDonald responded by issuing a direct plea for people to come forward with information and that anyone who abuses a child has given up the right to call themselves a republican.
As Ms McDonald said she was aware abuse victims can have “fear of not being accepted by their families”, Labour TD Emmet Stagg said it was a fear “of being shot”.
The comments came as abuse victim Mairia Cahill said she was aware of at least 35 cases similar to her own.
Fine Gael TD Regina Doherty also claimed four “very senior members” of Sinn Féin conducted an internal investigation in 2006 which found “40 different cases of sexual and physical abuse”.
A Sinn Féin spokesperson said Ms Doherty’s comments are “baseless and without foundation”.
However, difficulties continued to grow for the party after the man who alleges he was raped by a Provisional IRA member at his home at the age of 17 said Sinn Féin members told him he should not go to gardaí in 2009 because the move could damage a younger victim’s recovery.
Paudie McGahon said Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams’s claim last year he received names of alleged abusers anonymously through his letterbox are not plausible, as no one could approach the Belfast home without being seen.